Imprisoned Chicago cop to learn fate tomorrow

Michael Mette family awaits appeal decision
September 30, 2008 11:42:48 AM PDT
The Chicago cop serving a five year prison sentence in Iowa for defending himself during an attack will find out Wednesday if the Iowa Court of Appeals will set him free. Michael Mette's attorneys argued his appeal on the controversial assault conviction September 11th. Iowa Justice Terry L. Huitnick seemed to support Mette's contention that he acted in self-defense.

Justice Huitnick said, "It's impossible to conceive under the circumstances" that Mette could have done anything other than protect himself, when a drunken man chased him down a Dubuque street and attacked him. "It appears to me that the folks were in such close contact that it would have been impossible to escape."

Officer Mette, 30, was asking Iowa's Court of Appeals to reverse his conviction and dismiss the assault charge against him, claiming he acted in self-defense.

As the ABC7 I-Team first reported two years ago, Mette was charged after a 2005 incident in which he punched Dubuque student Jake Gothard. Both men had been drinking. Gothard was determined to have been the aggressor in the early morning street fracas, but was not charged. Mette, who attempted to walk away from Gothard several times before slugging him, was convicted and sentenced to five years in the state penitentiary.

Mette's father, Bob Mette, a retired Chicago detective, plans to be at the prison when the decision is made. Bob Mette said that if his son is released "we have friends who live 20 miles from the jail who want to cook him a big steak dinner."

Mette's attorney Mark McCormick argued during the appeal, that it was nothing more than self-defense when Mette punched Gothard. "Is it logical to think in the heat of the moment that Mr. Mette should stop and talk to Mr. Gothard?" McCormick asked the court. "That is out of the realm of reality."

Prosecutors countered that Mette should have continued to ignore the aggression by Gothard or called Dubuque. State attorney Linda Hines argued, "The court found [Mette] had other options. He was pushed. He hit back. He hit so hard that Mr. Gothard was knocked unconscious and fell backward."

Appeals court Justice Huitnick appeared skeptical about Hines' claim, asking her if she was suggesting that in the brief period in which the altercation occurred that Mette could have done something else. The court was not expected to issue a ruling today.

After Mette was convicted of felony assault, he was removed from the Chicago Police Department. Top city law enforcement officials have recently pressured Iowa authorities to reconsider the case. Mayor Daley, Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and others wrote to Iowa Governor Chet Culver, imploring him to pardon Mette.

A busload of his Mette's supporters, including Chicago police officers, went to Des Moines for the appeals court hearing. Some wore t-shirts proclaiming an "Injustice in Iowa."

Mette's sister recently gave birth to a baby girl. Bob Mette says he hopes "good news will come to the family in threes; a granddaughter, Mike's release and the Cubs winning the World Series."


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