Burglary trial for NFL player under way

SYCAMORE – A bench trial started Monday for NFL football player Jack Ikegwuonu, who is charged in a November 2006 home invasion.

Ikegwuonu, 23, and his twin brother, Bill – who was found not guilty after his separate trial in April – were both charged Nov. 26, 2006, with residential burglary and criminal trespassing.

“It is the defendant’s choice whether to waive a jury trial,” prosecutor Julie Trevarthen said. “He is entitled to make that decision, and he decided this morning.”

On the evening of the incident, Jack Ikegwuonu, a defensive back who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, was visiting his brother from Wisconsin, where he attended school at the time, the defense said Monday. He now is a cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Prosecutors said the two broke into a townhouse rented by Safyian Baba in the 800 block of Fotis Drive around 2 a.m. that day. Baba discovered one of them in a darkened lower level of the residence, possibly holding an Xbox game console, according to police. The men then ran from the home, said two police officers, who testified Monday.

Ikegwuonu’s attorney, Peter Gruber, told Judge Kurt Klein that the brothers went to Baba’s home looking for a party.

A DeKalb police officer testifying Monday said the brothers were questioned separately four times and gave a different version of their stories each time. The officer asked that his name not be published because he works undercover.

Prosecutors showed witnesses nine photographs Monday that were taken at the scene. They depicted a damaged door frame at the Fotis Drive residence and an Xbox game console that had reportedly been found in the middle of the living room floor, disconnected from the TV. In attempt to shift responsibility from Ikegwuonu, the defense argued that there were no pictures taken in the townhouse before the reported break-in.

Michael Britton, of DeKalb, was among those questioned about the photographs Monday afternoon. He was Baba’s roommate at the time of the incident.

“As I remember correctly, the Xbox game system was misplaced,” he said. “I can’t recall the exact location, but it was disconnected ... It was unplugged from the outlet on the wall and from the TV.”

Britton also testified that the Ikegwuonus were not invited to the townhouse Nov. 26, and no party was planned there.

Many details were unclear to Britton because the break-in was so long ago, he said, but he is still friendly with Bill Ikegwuonu when he sees him.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. today.

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