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Closing arguments in Ikegwuonu trial scheduled for today

SYCAMORE – Closing arguments are scheduled to be given today in the bench trial for NFL football player Jack Ikegwuonu.

The trial resumed Thursday after a week-long break. Prosecutors called an out-of-state witness to the stand, and Ikegwuonu testified in his own defense.

Former DeKalb resident Safyian Baba, who now lives in California, testified Thursday against Ikegwuonu, 23, who faces charges of residential burglary and criminal trespassing.

Police say Ikegwuonu and his twin brother, Bill, entered Baba’s rented townhouse in the 800 block of Fotis Drive on Nov. 26, 2006, and were discovered in the empty, darkened lower level, possibly holding an Xbox game console.

The defense says the Ikegwuonus were just looking for a party, and both men stuck to that story Thursday when defense lawyer Peter Gruber called them to the stand. But there was no party planned at Baba’s townhouse, Baba said while being questioned by Prosecutor Julie Trevarthen, and the Ikegwuonus were never invited over.

The trial for Jack Ikegwuonu, who is a defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles, began last week. Bill was found not guilty of both charges during a separate trial in April.

Baba was at an adjacent townhouse around 2 a.m. on Nov. 26, 2006, when he noticed that the sliding glass door of his residence was ajar about a foot, he said Thursday.

He then went over to his townhouse to see if anyone had entered and found two men dressed in black. Baba said he yelled profanities at the men, who he was unable to identify as acquaintances in the darkness. The two then “took off running,” he said.

Baba admitted he was intoxicated at the time of the incident, but said it did not affect his ability to identify what he saw.

Ikegwuonu’s attorney, Peter Gruber, then cross-examined Baba. He presented two handwriting samples to Judge Kurt Klein – one from a written statement Baba gave to police that November  morning and a second from a written statement made in December.

The two samples were substantially different, Baba admitted on the stand, and Gruber attributed that difference to drunkenness.

Jack Ikegwuonu was visiting his brother Bill – a Northern Illinois University student, at the time – from Wisconsin when the incident occurred.

Bill had talked to Baba’s roommate, Michael Britton, earlier that night about going to a party, he said on the stand.

He was waiting for Britton to finish work at a local bar and decided to walk to the nearby townhouse to see if he was home yet.

The Ikegwuonus went together, they both said Thursday.

No one answered when Bill knocked on Baba’s door and rang the doorbell, he said, so the two left. In doing so, Bill noticed that the light to Britton’s bedroom was on and decided to return to the front door and enter the residence, he said.

“I walked upstairs to see if he was in his room,” Bill Ikegwuonu said. “ ... Someone came through the back door [downstairs] and started yelling profanities. He was acting very belligerent.”

Bill Ikegwuonu then said he tried to tell Baba that he was looking for Britton. The brothers quickly left the scene to avoid a fight, and Bill Ikegwuonu was chased by Baba.

Britton testified last week that he did not have plans with the brothers, and he didn’t speak to them earlier that night. He also said he never invited them over to the townhouse.

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