JOLIET – The Lemont man convicted of second-degree murder for punching another driver during a 2011 road rage encounter in Romeoville faces between three and 20 years in prison.
Christopher Yeoman claimed he was defending himself when he threw the punch that eventually led to the death of 64-year-old Frank Egas. But a jury decided he was guilty of second-degree murder after deliberating for five hours Monday night.
Yeoman, 41, has yet to be sentenced. He has no criminal record. He could receive probation for the second-degree murder conviction instead of serving up to 20 years in prison on that charge. But the aggravated battery charges, for which Yeoman was also found guilty, are not probational offenses, so he will serve at least three years behind bars, according to the Will County State's Attorney's Office.
Yeoman, his wife and their three children were riding in a minivan on New Avenue when they got behind a red Toyota Solara that remained stopped at 135th Street instead of turning on the green arrow. Yeoman testified when he gave a "hurry up" tap of the horn, Egas, the driver of the Solara, laid on his own horn and appeared irate.
The two vehicles headed west on 135th Street where Egas swerved in front of the Yeoman's minivan several times to keep them from passing him, Yeoman said. When the vehicles reached Route 53, Christopher and Amanda Yeoman got out to "converse" with Egas about his driving before walking back to their van. Witnesses said Egas remained by his car, but "pointed to his chin ... telling [Yeoman] 'Hit me.'"
Yeoman ran back and punched Egas in the face, knocking him to the ground where the back of his head struck the pavement. Experts in forensic pathology testified Egas suffered brain injuries that led to his death three months later at the age of 64.
Yeoman and defense attorney Cliff Johnson never denied he struck Egas but argued he was "defending himself" from the belligerent man. Jurors didn't buy it.
"Christopher Yeoman sucker punched Mr. Egas out of sheer anger and now a senior citizen is dead, the victim of irrational violence," Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said in a written statement after the verdict was reached. "(Assistant State's Attorneys Christopher Koch and Peter Wilkes) left no doubt in the minds of jurors that this was a murder resulting from a senseless incident of road rage and not a case of self-defense."
Yeoman was convicted of second-degree murder, aggravated battery of a senior citizen, aggravated battery on a public way and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 4.