A 21-year-old college student from Illinois has been charged with murder after allegedly beating his mother with a bat because he mistakenly thought she was an intruder, say prosecutors.
On Monday, Thomas Summerwill of the Chicago suburb of Campton Hills surrendered to police after prosecutors filed criminal charges against him in the death of his mother, Mary B. Summerwill, the Office of the Kane County State’s Attorney says in a statement.
Thomas Summerwill, who just finished his junior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, appeared in court Tuesday, where he was charged with two felony counts of second-degree murder.
He posted $30,000 bond and was released from custody.
The alleged crime took place on March 24, 2019, when Thomas Summerwill “awoke to what he believed was an intruder in his bedroom,” prosecutors say in the statement.
“Acting in what he believed was the defense of himself or his property, Summerwill grabbed a baseball bat and struck the person multiple times in the head with the bat, not realizing the person was his mother, Mary Summerwill,” the statement says.
His mother, 53, was taken to a local hospital where she died a short time later of blunt force trauma, prosecutors say.
They allege that Thomas Summerwill’s belief that she was an intruder “was not reasonable because of his alcohol impairment,” the statement says.
His attorney says otherwise.
“The allegations are that he was essentially startled awake, believing there was an intruder in his room,” Thomas Summerwill’s attorney, Liam Dixon said, the Chicago-Tribune reports. “If they allege alcohol played a role, I don’t know that that changes his reasoning.”
He allegedly struck his mother multiple times with a souvenir bat that was hanging on the wall of his bedroom, the Associated Press and Washington Post report.
He and his father, who was home at the time of the alleged beating, called 911 that morning, the Tribune reports.
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Thomas Summerwill had recently returned from a spring break trip to Ireland and parts of Europe and may have had jet lag, Dixon said, the Tribune reports.
Describing Mary Summerwill’s death as a “horrible accident,” Dixon said his client is “devastated,” the AP reports.
Thomas Summerville’s family members support him and are disappointed with the charges, Dixon said, the Washington Post reports.
“Whatever the state does to him will pale in comparison to what’s already happened,” Dixon said.
“It was a freak accident and a tragic, horrible story all the way around,” he said, the Tribune reports.
Dixon doesn’t know why Mary Summerwill went into her son’s room the night she died, the Tribune reports.
“They had an excellent relationship,” Dixon said. “I wouldn’t even call it a typical relationship. I would say it’s very loving. She adored him.”
Mary Summerwill, who was known as Bridget, according to her obituary, “was an intelligent, bubbly and beautiful woman who always made others feel valued and whose presence always would light up the room.”
Thomas Summerwill has not yet entered a plea. He is scheduled to return to court on May 23. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. His attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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