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NIU shooting case ends with plea agreement

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 4:01 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 11:05 p.m. CDT
(Provided photo)
Zachary Isaacman, charged in February 2010 shooting at NIU.

SYCAMORE – The former Northern Illinois University student accused of shooting another student in the leg on campus in 2010 accepted a plea agreement Thursday after his first conviction was overturned.

Zachary Isaacman, 25, was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated battery in a public way.

He was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday but is expected to be released on parole soon when he is given credit for good behavior and the 3¾ years he’s already served. Klein paid Brian Mulder $3,600 in restitution Thursday.

Isaacman was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May 2011 for shooting Mulder in the leg outside Stevenson North residence hall. But a three-judge panel at the Illinois’ Second District Appellate Court overturned his conviction and that sentence after finding his trial defense attorney, John Paul Carroll, was ineffective.

So, DeKalb County prosecutors took a fresh look at the case, considering Isaacman’s minimal criminal history – he had two traffic tickets – and input from Mulder’s family and local police, Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Klein said.

“We tried to look at this as if it were a brand new case,” Klein said.

Before the trial in 2010, prosecutors had offered a plea agreement to Isaacman, but Carroll set the case for trial without continuing negotiations, Klein said.

At the trial in December 2010, Isaacman testified that an intoxicated Mulder stormed up to him about 3 a.m. after overhearing Isaacman swearing because his phone battery had died, according to the appellate decision. Isaacman testified that Mulder mentioned a knife while threatening him, so Isaacman told him he had a handgun and would defend himself. When he pulled the gun, Mulder grabbed the barrel and pulled down, and the gun discharged.

Mulder claimed that he declined to let Isaacman into the residence hall, which so frustrated Isaacman that he pulled a gun, according the to appellate decision. Mulder testified that he had about 10 alcoholic drinks and smoked marijuana in the five hours before the shooting, the decision states.

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