Dwyer accused of domestic battery

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Ernest F. Dwyer, 49, of Rock Island, appeared at a preliminary hearing and arraignment on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008 on charges stemming from a domestic violence incident in New Windsor. On Oct. 14, 2008 Dwyer went to the home of his estranged wife in rural New Windsor and got into a verbal and physical altercation with his stepson, Justin Mott.

Mercer County Deputy Hallace Chapman was sworn in and testified about the incident that he was called to at the Laura Dwyer residence. Chapman said he spoke to both Laura Dwyer and Justin Mott, the stepson, about what happened, as well as James Robinson, who was at the house with Laura and Justin at the time of the incident.

Chapman said that Mott told him Ernest Dwyer went into a grain bin telling his stepson he was there to fix a fence. Laura then came out and came between the two men and Ernest pushed her aside and hit Mott on his mouth, neck and ear.

He identified photographs that were taken of Mott, showing injuries, including a photo of three teeth that were knocked out. Chapman also interviewed Laura Dwyer, who told the same story, that she got in between Justin and Ernest, was pushed aside and Ernest hit Justin in the mouth, ear and neck. Robinson told the officer that he watched from a window and saw Ernest hitting Justin.

Public Defender Clarence Darrow represented Ernest Dwyer during the preliminary hearing and asked Chapman if there had been any statements made by Mott to Ernest prior to the physical attack.

Darrow asked Chapman if he knew if there was any medical condition related to Mott's teeth.

"Justin said he had one missing," said Chapman.

Judge James G. Conway asked Chapman if he had spoken to Ernest Dwyer that day.

Chapman said he did not.

He asked if Chapman knew what the relationship was between Ernest and Laura Dwyer.

Chapman said that Ernest left her approximately three years ago and she hadn't seen him since.

Darrow then called Laura Dwyer to the stand.

She testified she had not seen Ernest since 2005. She said that Justin had been in a car accident in August 2007 and had injury to his teeth.

Darrow questioned whether there was damage to the upper teeth.

She said no, but that his upper jaw had been broken in the accident.

Darrow asked Laura whether she had heard what her son said to Ernest. She said she heard several things.

Did you hear Justin Mott say several remarks? asked Darrow.

Yes, she said.

She said Justin asked why he left her for someone else. He also asked if he was so concerned about the property, why hadn't he been there before. "Why was he there to fix the property?"

She said Ernest left on Jan. 2, 2006.

The state's attorney asked if she saw Ernest punch Mott and asked her to verify the injuries, through the photographs that had been taken.

In the summation, the state's attorney said there was enough evidence to hold Ernest Dwyer for the felony aggravated domestic battery, that two witnesses had testified about the crime, to the now disfigured victim.

The public defender said that he disagreed that domestic battery could be charged since Mr. Dwyer was not a household member for three years.

Judge Conway said that both sides had a lot of work to do on the case, but he did find probable cause to hold Ernest Dwyer accountable.

A second item in the case was the financial status of the defendant. Judge Conway ruled that since the defendant works for the postal service, he was not indigent and the public defender was relieved.

Bail status was confirmed, with bond set at $30,000 (10 percent), and the defendant was ordered to have no contact with Laura A. Dwyer or Justin D. Mott.

An arraignment was set for Dec. 2, 2008 at 9:30 p.m. and a trial date was set for Jan. 26, 2009.