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Local

Crossbow suspect dies after fall


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DeKALB – Gary Aspengren, the man accused of firing an arrow at the face of his longtime companion last month, died Monday morning after falling down in his cell at the DeKalb County Jail and hitting his head.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said deputies heard a noise about 3:15 a.m. Sunday “like something hitting the wall” in Aspengren’s cell. When they went to investigate, they found the 64-year-old man lying on the floor of his cell with a cut on his head. Aspengren was conscious, and talked to both deputies as they administered first aid and to Sycamore Fire Department paramedics when they arrived about 11 minutes later, Scott said.

“He apparently passed out, fell and struck his head,” Scott said. “At least, that’s how it appears.”

Scott said as far as police can tell, it does not appear Aspengren, who was in a single-occupant cell, fell off of any sort of raised surface.

He was taken by ambulance to Kishwaukee Community Hospital and was later airlifted to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he died about 7:20 a.m. Monday. Preliminary results of an autopsy performed Monday indicate the cause of death was a head injury caused by a fall, Scott said. The complete autopsy report from the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office will be available in about six weeks.

Aspengren’s brother, Alfred Aspengren, said Monday that he was not blaming the jail for his brother’s death.

“I have no reason to think there is a problem with the jail at this point,” he said.

Gary Aspengren was facing charges of aggravated battery involving a weapon, aggravated battery involving great bodily harm, armed violence and aggravated domestic battery in the Sept. 28 incident, in which police said he stepped out the door of his house in the 200 block of King Street in Cortland and fired a crossbow at the woman as she sat in her car. The arrow shattered the window and pierced the victim’s cheek. Her injury was not life-threatening.

The day after the shooting, Aspengren’s bond was set at $650,000 and his court-appointed attorney requested a psychological fitness evaluation. Aspengren had a guardian of his person and estate because he had previously been found incompetent to handle his own affairs by the courts, DeKalb County Public Defender Regina Harris said at the time of the request. The results of the four-week evaluation were expected to be ready by Aspengren’s next court date on Oct. 28.

Alfred Aspengren said he feels “there should be better access to mental health services.”

Scott said Gary Aspengren was on a number of prescription medications, which, along with his age, was a factor in his being housed in a cell by himself. Scott said Aspengren had continued to take all of his prescriptions while he was in custody in the jail.

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