Exulam Holman / photo from Will County Sheriff's office
Updated: October 19, 2012 7:34AM
The mother of a man from unincorporated Joliet who attempted to pop her brother’s eyes out of his head on New Year’s Eve believes that her son, at his core, is a good man.
“My son is not a criminal,” Nannetta Johnson tearfully testified during Exulam I. Holman’s sentencing hearing Thursday in Will County Circuit Court.
“He’s not an angel, either. But I know God has forgiven my son,” Johnson said. “We are all guilty.”
In August a jury convicted Holman, 33, of aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery. On Thursday he received the maximum sentence: 14 years in prison.
During the trial, 63-year-old Clifford Melvin told jurors Holman attacked him after he returned to their home in the 1100 block of McKay Street from a nearby casino. During a fight over the remote control, Melvin said Holman declared, “There can only be one king,” as he pinned Melvin down and pushed his thumbs into his uncle’s eye sockets.
Four surgeries later, Melvin lost one eye and has blurred vision in the other, according to his victim-impact statement. He wrote that his nephew is a danger to everyone around him.
On Thursday, Holman, a father of two, told Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak he wouldn’t have committed the crime if he hadn’t been drinking alcohol and taking PCP and cocaine.
“Your honor, I may have done those things, but that’s not who I am,” Holman said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Meyers asked the judge to throw the book at Holman and give him the maximum sentence.
“He has terrorized his family and terrorized any law enforcement officer that comes to the aid of his family,” Meyers said.
Holman’s public defender, Robert Bodach, acknowledged Holman does not get along with police but asked Bertani-Tomczak to consider a lighter sentence coupled with treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
Both Holman and his mother said Holman’s behavior worsened after he was allegedly beaten by a Joliet police officer in 1999. The city eventually gave Holman $100,000 not to sue.
In 2000, Holman pleaded guilty to aggravated battery after driving his car into a police officer, according to court records.
Four years before the fight with his uncle, Holman stood trial on charges he attacked his brother with a pair of garden shears — a fight he told police started over a bowl of homemade chili.
A jury wound up acquitting Holman after his brother turned out to be an uncooperative witness.
Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan Monahan testified Thursday that he went to Holman’s house in February 2009 after someone there called 911 and hung up.
He found Holman in an upstairs bedroom with a 15-year-old relative, refusing to come out.
Holman threatened to shoot Monahan if he touched the bedroom door, the officer said.
“I asked if he’d shoot a police officer,” Monahan said, at which point Holman started saying, “Shots fired, shots fired” and making siren noises.
Eventually, with support from a tactical team and hostage negotiator, Holman came out of the bedroom, Monahan said.
Holman pleaded guilty in 2010 after threatening a police officer with a hammer.
Holman’s criminal record has covered most of his life and dates back to his childhood, Bertani-Tomczak noted during the sentencing hearing.
In 1996, Holman was sentenced to four years in prison for drug possession and a gun charge. He was paroled two years later.