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Judge won’t dismiss case against woman accused of throwing fatal punch in $5 bet

Mugshot Tiffany Startz provided by Crest Hill Police Dept.

Mugshot of Tiffany Startz provided by the Crest Hill Police Dept.

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Updated: July 3, 2011 11:48AM

Theresa Guy could barely breathe after a Will County judge refused to dismiss charges against a Joliet woman Friday who is accused of killing Guy’s son in a party game gone wrong.

Guy left the courtroom after Tiffany K. Startz learned she’d face reckless conduct and battery charges for the death of John Powell, 25. Powell, Guy’s son, collapsed at a Crest Hill garage party minutes after he let Startz punch him in the face for $5, and he died shortly after.

Guy cried and hugged family and friends, and she tried to catch her breath. She knows the 22-year-old Startz could still be acquitted at trial, but the case isn’t over after the ruling from Judge Edward Burmila.

“She can’t walk away today,” Guy said.

Ira Goldstein, Startz’s attorney, said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling, and he ruled out a plea bargain. He said Startz didn’t commit a crime when she hit Powell.

“People get paid to get hit,” Goldstein said.

Police say Jimmy E. Mounts, 27, of Romeoville, offered guests at the Sept. 25 party $5 to take a punch from Startz, who was 5-foot-5 and weighed 142 pounds. Powell, who was 5-foot-8 and weighed 140 pounds, accepted the offer, according to court records. He took the punch, collected his money and continued talking with friends.

Powell collapsed a few minutes later and was rushed to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he died. The Will County coroner said he died of a brain hemorrhage caused by blunt-force trauma.

Mounts is also charged in the case, and he and Startz are expected back in court June 16.

Guy said she heard several stories about the circumstances of her son’s death before the truth came out, including a claim he tripped over a board and hit his head. But she said police have cell phone video of the punch.

She said she felt like she was losing faith in the justice system before Friday’s ruling. She also said she doesn’t believe Startz’s world stopped like hers did when Powell died.

“We’ve all been sick from this,” Guy said.

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