Woman on trial for throwing punch that killed man

October 4, 2011

The twist in this case is that the victim asked to be hit. It happened during a party at a home in southwest suburban Crest Hill. The punch in the face intended to entertain.

"She did it. Plain and simple. She did it. She deserves to suffer the consequences," said Theresa Guy, victim's mother.

It was in the garage last year that prosecutors say Tiffany Startz's friend Jimmy Mounts offered $5 to any party goer willing to take Startz's punch. John Powell, 25, accepted the challenge.

"He looked at her. He said, 'wow.' Stood there for like four or five seconds and fell over," said Keith Barnes, victim's friend.

Powell later died at St. Joseph Medical Center from a brain injury caused by a neck artery that had burst.

"He did agree to get punched, but he didn't agree to die. There was no permission for that," said Guy.

Mounts and Startz were both charged with felony reckless conduct and misdemeanor battery, but not homicide.

Mounts pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. But Startz's attorney, who admits his client threw the punch, maintains it wasn't criminal.

"The state's decided that they want to pursue this case based on the result, not because of the actions," said Edward Masters, defense attorney.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys challenged the credibility of several party goers who admitted in testimony to lying to police, initially telling officers that Powell tripped and fell. The defense also disputes that the punch caused the fatal injury.

"Was it the punch? Was it the fall when he hit his head? What was it?" said Masters.

But for Powell's loved ones, there's little doubt why he died.

"It's sad that my kids ain't gonna get a chance to know him the way that they should, and this whole world really does need people like him, and them people keep getting taken away," said Barnes.

The trial resumes Thursday with testimony from the doctor who examined Powell.

If convicted, Startz could receive as much as three years in prison or as little as probation.

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