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Man pleads guilty to noose attack on Brother Rice student

Matthew Herrmann / phofrom Chicago police.

Matthew Herrmann / photo from Chicago police.

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An Alsip man pleaded guilty Friday to battery his role in a racially-charged attack in which a group of teens put a noose around the neck of a Brother Rice student and threatened him with a knife.

Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said Matthew Herrmann will be sentenced Dec. 12 after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor.

Herrmann is one of three white teens charged with attacking 17-year-old Joshua Merritt in December inside the Beverly home of a state’s attorney’s office employee. The group, then 16, 17 and 18, put a noose around the boy’s neck, threatened him with a knife and called him a racial epithet, police said.

The two other boys were charged with unlawful restraint and hate crime, both felonies, and misdemeanor battery, police said. The 16-year-old was also charged with aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon. Their cases are pending in juvenile court.

Herrmann, the oldest of the attackers, was originally charged with unlawful restraint, hate crime and battery, police said. The felony charges were dropped in the plea deal, state’s attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin said.

Merritt went to the home of the 16-year-old in the 1600 block of West 100th Place on Dec. 23, 2011, because he had a relationship with “one of the offenders’ family members,” authorities said. The father of the 16-year-old worked in an administrative role for the state’s attorney’s office.

Merritt, said he was invited to hang out with Herrmann and his friends at the house. He had been at the home earlier that year and knew the boy who lived there as well as his cousin, a white girl to whom he had sent texts and Facebook messages.

He and one of the alleged attackers were students at Brother Rice High School, police said. The victim told police the group twice put a noose around his neck, threatened him with a knife, used the N-word and refused to let him leave the house. He was eventually able to escape.

Merritt said he had been friends with Herrmann since his freshman year at Brother Rice. Herrmann was sophomore, but they were both in the anime and video game clubs and had a “trust with each other.”

Merritt said he knew the 17-year-old attended Brother Rice, but he didn’t know him. The 16-year-old was a Morgan Park High School student.



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