Attorneys claim coma inducing beating was self defense

David R. Kazak - Daily Herald Staff Writer

During a late-night, drunken brawl a year ago this month, Jonathan Nuyen's skull was cracked in two places.

Fluid filled his head, nearly choking the life out of his brain and causing a nine-day coma during which doctors gave him no more than a 5 percent chance of living.

Nuyen beat the odds, but the injuries left the 32-year-old Aurora man with permanent brain damage. And all of this was his own fault, said two attorneys who represent the three men on trial for nuyen's beating: Benjamin R. Zeitz, 26, of Batavia, and Elburn residents Jason R. Pavlak, 24, and Matthew J. Richardson, 24.

Of the fight that ended with Nuyen lying in a pool of blood in a downtown St. Charles parking lot on July 29, 2001, defense attorney John Barsanti said: "Their actions were completely justified."

Barsanti represents Zeitz and Richardson. David Camic represents Pavlak.

"They fought to defend themselves," Barsanti said in an opening statement to Kane County Judge James Doyle, who must make the final determination about whether Barsanti is right.

Doyle has two stories with which to contend. One, presented Monday by Special Prosecutor Jim Guagliardo, is that Zeitz, Richardson and Pavlak attacked Nuyen and his friend, todd henry, 38, after an alcohol-fueled argument.

Guagliardo, a private attorney appointed as a prosecutor because a member of Richardson's family once worked for the Kane County state's attorney's office, said Zeitz brutally smashed Nuyen's head into the ground while Richardson held him down

The two attacked, Guagliardo said, after Pavlak jumped onto the hodd of Nuyen's car and then fell off.

"This was retaliation, temper and rage, not self-defense," Guagliardo said.

However, the defense attorneys said Nuyen deliberately drove his car at Pavlak, knocking him under Henry's car. Henry suffered injuries when the defendants tried to stop him from moving his car, Camic said.