Contrary to appearance, Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler qualifies for special protection on account of his age.

State law elevates misdemeanor battery to felony aggravated battery if a victim has turned 60, and Prenzler recently turned 61.

Prenzler
Prenzler

The attack he endured on March 11 implicates other Illinois laws.

Any crime counts as a hate crime if it happens in a church, and the attack happened at St. Mary and St. Mark church in Madison.

Battery rises to aggravated battery if it involves strangling, a sinister verb that the law defines loosely.

“Strangle means intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of an individual by applying pressure on the throat or neck of that individual or by blocking the nose or mouth of that individual,” the law states.

Spectacle also matters, for battery rises to aggravated battery if it happens on a public way or public property, or in a public place of accommodation or amusement, a sports venue, or a domestic violence shelter.

Finally, battery of a public official rises to aggravated battery if it happens while he or she performs official duties.

As of Tuesday, March 21, State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons had not charged anyone.

He did not return a call about the case.

On March 20, Madison police chief Christopher Burns said he forwarded a report to the state’s attorney the previous Friday.

Merely threatening a public official counts as a felony, as Brad Van Hoose of Belleville learned last year.

St. Clair County grand jurors indicted him on a felony charge that he threatened Caseyville Mayor Leonard Black, but the charge didn’t stick.

Associate Judge Randall Kelley reduced it to misdemeanor assault, finding that Van Hoose’s words did not relate to Black’s official duties.

Van Hoose has asked Kelley to reconsider his conviction.

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