ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local man accused of first-degree murder wants the jury in his upcoming trial to go to the scene where he says he killed the former owner of Dusty Boots Saloon in self-defense six years ago.
Roland Breault, 59, is scheduled to stand trial next month in Winnebago County in the death of 59-year-old Joseph Pendergrass.
In a latest pretrial motion Breault’s attorney, Stephen M. Komie, of Chicago, has asked Judge Joe McGraw to allow jurors to physically view the inside of 1820 Windsor Road, the building that housed Advanced Medical Rehabilitation, where Pendergrass was fatally stabbed on May 31, 2016.
It was inside the Loves Park building that Breault and Pendergrass got into a physical confrontation that began in a hallway and moved into at least one other room.
“It is important for the jury to observe the hallway where the fight between the two men took place, the presence of obstacles in the hallway, (and) the layout of the building,” Breault’s motion states.
Komie’s motion states that it is important for jurors to view the scene because Breault is claiming self-defense and discovery materials produced by the state include witness statements about the events that took place inside the single-story building.
One witness who is expected to testify is Cathy Dzik, the wife of Joe Pendergrass.
Dzik, a former partner at Advanced Medical Rehabilitation, was present when the fight broke out. According to court records, she told Loves Park Police Officer Curtis Wilson that the melee started after her husband slapped a cellphone out of Breault’s hand.
The events that led up to that moment began when Dzik was at home and received a notification that a burglar alarm had been tripped at the clinic.
When Dzik and Pendergrass responded to the alarm, they saw Roland Breault, who had a key to the building, inside. Breault was holding a cellphone and told the couple he was recording them. The men started fighting after Pendergrass slapped Breault’s phone. It ended when Breault stabbed Pendergrass with a folding pocket knife.
Breault claims Pendergrass attacked him and that he used the knife because he feared for his life. He said he initially brandished the weapon to stop the attack from continuing but Pendergrass kept coming at him, according to a report from use-of-force expert Richard Lichten.
“Mr. Breault stated he took out the knife ‘due to the violence upon me,’” Lichten said.
He added that Breault stated he wasn’t going to “duke it out” with Pendergrass because Pendergrass was much bigger than him.
“I would not be able to defend myself with fists,” Breault says in the report. “He is bigger and stronger. The immediate danger upon me, that is why I took the knife out to stop the attack. I was hoping he’d stop.”
Breault claims instead of stopping at the sight of the knife, Pendergrass overpowered him and was trying to cut off his breathing with his right forearm.
As the tussle continued, Breault says he knew he “had to poke him two to three times to stop him.”
“My intent was to stop the attack, to save myself and get away,” Breault said.
With two stab wounds to the chest, Pendergrass, according to Breault, kept assaulting him and once again got on top of him. That’s when Breault says he stabbed Pendergrass again, this time in the back.
Breault then dropped the knife and fled in a minivan.
Dzik was driving Pendergrass to the hospital while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, who to told her to pull over and wait for an ambulance. She stopped in the Harlem Middle School parking lot, where Pendergrass died.
Dzik and Breault’s wife, Mary Ann Breault, were partners in the Loves Park chiropractic clinic and were in the middle of a lawsuit when Pendergrass was killed.
Breault is currently being held without bond. His trial is scheduled for 9 a.m., Oct. 31, in Courtroom A at the Winnebago County Justice Center.