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Man Charged With Slugging Woman 'Going To Make This Right,' His Lawyer Says

By  Erica Demarest and Kelly Bauer | May 17, 2017 7:22am | Updated on May 17, 2017 3:52pm

 Matthew DeLeon, 23, has been charged with hitting a security guard in River North, police said.
Matthew DeLeon, 23, has been charged with hitting a security guard in River North, police said.
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Courtesy Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Bail was set at $250,000 Wednesday for the Portage Park man who punched a River North security guard in her face on Mother's Day, breaking her nose and bones in her face.

Matthew DeLeon, 23, is charged with aggravated battery in a public place, aggravated battery to a peace officer and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm.

DeLeon had been drinking when he vomited in front of a residential building in the 600 block of North Franklin Street about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, according to prosecutors and a family representative.

When security guard Zoa Stigler, 46, tried to get DeLeon to leave, he threw a water bottle at the woman before punching her in her face, breaking her nose and orbital bone, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said during a bond hearing Wednesday.

Stigler cleaned up DeLeon's vomit before taking herself to a nearby hospital, prosecutors said. She required surgery and will need follow-up care.

DeLeon and several onlookers — identified by prosecutors as DeLeon's wife, DeLeon's sister-and-law and his sister-in-law's boyfriend — simply walked away, according to Antonietti.

"He's going to make this right for the victim and her family," DeLeon's defense attorney Richard Fenbert said after court Wednesday. "He expressed deep remorse about what happened."

According to Fenbert, DeLeon is a member of the U.S. Army who was slated to head to Hawaii for active duty in June. DeLeon previously was deployed to Afghanistan, has been married for a year and is "of limited means," the attorney said.

Fenbert did not specify how DeLeon, of the 4900 block of West Eddy Street, would make amends, but said after court that measures could include an apology or money toward the woman's medical bills.

Antonietti said that DeLeon was once arrested for driving under the influence in California.

Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. on Wednesday set bail at $250,000. Should DeLeon post bond, the judge said, he is not allowed to contact the victim nor go near her place of employment.

The attack was captured in a video obtained by WGN TV.

DeLeon turned himself in to police Tuesday afternoon and was feeling "very, very remorseful," according to Dawn Valenti, a victim rights advocate. Valenti met DeLeon's family through a friend but said she did not know DeLeon personally.

To date, more than $23,000 has been raised in a GoFundMe campaign to help Stigler with her recovery.

Stigler is a single mother raising two daughters, Sierra and Shiela, according to Asad Khan, president of the board of the building where Stigler works security. Stigler was unable to spend Mother's Day with her girls due to her injuries, Khan said.

"Zoa [Stigler] is so dedicated and hardworking that in spite of being in pain and disoriented, she had the mindset of cleaning up the mess caused by this thug before being taken to the hospital .... AMAZING!!," Khan posted on GoFundMe.

According to prosecutors, Stigler thought DeLeon was sick when she first stepped outside to help him about 2:15 a.m. Sunday. After asking him to leave twice, Antonietti said, Stigler saw DeLeon vomit.

After grabbing a mop and bucket to clean up the mess, prosecutors said, Stigler came outside and saw three more people with DeLeon. She repeatedly asked the group to "move along," Antonietti said. That's when DeLeon threw a punch.

"Why would you hit a human being in the face that's trying to assist you, trying to help you?" Stigler asked in an interview with WGN. "I hope they arrest him because I do plan on pressing charges against him for assaulting me for doing my job."

Valenti said that while she doesn't condone the man's actions, she believes he is a good person who made a drunken mistake.

"What people saw was really bad," Valenti said. "There's no way around it. ... But people are calling him a thug and a piece of s---. All this stuff is not true about him. He's really, really remorseful. He's upset himself about what he did. He hit a woman."