UPDATED (2:57 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17)
An Indiana man responsible for a 2010 armed standoff in Frankfort Square was sentenced to 17 years in prison Wednesday morning.
Richard Petrick, 49, of Merrillville, Ind., pleaded guilty in April to felony aggravated stalking, home invasion and aggravated assault charges after he forced his way into the house of his ex-girlfriend, Michelle Fischer, last year.
During the standoff with Will County Sheriff's deputies, Petrick was shot in the right eye. He wore a black eyepatch in the courtroom Wednesday.
Judge Daniel Rozak said he took Petrick's minimal criminal record and military service into account when imposing punishment. Petrick had served in two branches of the military and was a combat veteran, Roazk said.
"A lot of his troubles appear to be a result of that," the judge said.
Petrick will most likely serve a minimum of eight years after factoring in good behavior and the year and four months of jail time he's already served, said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow. When he gets out of prison, Petrick also will face three years of mandatory supervised release, meaning he can have no contact with Fischer during that time.
In a press conference after the hearing, Fischer said she's breathing easier now that Petrick has been sentenced, but the aftermath of the April 2010 incident and his history of stalking still take their toll. She said she stopped going out in her back yard or taking her dog out for long walks. For a year, Fischer said, she wouldn't drive with the windows down out of fear that she would be pulled out of her car.
"It's obvious that, emotionally, it's never going to be enough (prison) time," she said. "If they said 100 years, I would've been happy with that."
Fischer filed a protective order against Petrick in 2009 after he began harassing her with threatening phone calls and text messages. In February 2010, Petrick was charged with aggravated stalking after a Will County Sheriff's deputy, responding to a call from Fischer, caught Petrick parked outside her house with a pellet gun, a 10-inch hunting knife, a Winchester rifle, a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle, a box of ammunition and binoculars.
On April 9, 2010, Petrick, out on bond for the stalking charge, hid in the bushes around Fischer's house. When she saw him hiding, she ran inside and called 911. Petrick then got into the house after shooting through a sliding glass door with his pellet gun and began threatening to kill Fischer, who escaped out the front door. Fischer's adult daugther, however, was only able to get away by jumping out a second-floor window and landing on a parked car. She suffered a concussion, whiplash and broken vertebrae, Fischer said.
A sheriff's deputy shot Petrick in the eye when he refused to drop his gun, telling deputies they would have to shoot him.
"Obviously, it's a miracle the defendant survived this," said Glasgow, adding that a greater tragedy was avoided thanks to Fischer working so closely with his office's Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit. Glasgow cited the work of Assistant State's Attorney Heather Meyers, victim witness advocate Kathy Craven and Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Cavera as being instrumental in helping Fischer get a protective order and working with her throughout the ordeal.
"We always felt like it was a team effort," Fischer said. "It made me feel a lot stronger than if I was just on my own."