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Man guilty in killing of elderly Bartlett man for his guns

Terry S. Bratcher

Terry S. Bratcher

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Updated: November 10, 2011 11:07AM

A jury has found Terry Bratcher, 45, of West Chicago, guilty of first degree murder for his role in the 2009 murder of 82-year-old Carl Kuhn of unincorporated Bartlett.

The six-person jury today also found Bratcher guilty of home invasion and armed robbery. The jury deliberated for approximately two hours before returning the verdict in front of Judge Blanche Fawell, who presided over the five-day long trial.

Bratcher and co-defendant Keith Allen of Chicago are accused of going to Kuhn’s home on Aug. 21 to steal guns from Kuhn, an avid gun collector.

The pair devised a plan that called for Bratcher, a former client of Kuhn’s, to enter the residence first and, once inside, call for an armed and disguised Allen to join him, according to prosecutors.

Bratcher and Allen forced Kuhn to an upstairs bedroom where they made him to drink iced tea laced with dishwashing soap, covered his head with a jacket and a pair of men’s underwear and smothered him to death by forcing his head into a pillow on a bed. The men then stole 46 guns and collectable coins from the home, authorities said.

Fawell sentenced Allen last April to 46 years in prison after Allen plead guilty to one count of first degree murder.

“Just over two years ago, Carl Kuhn, who was a pillar in the community, was viciously murdered by Terry Bratcher and Keith Allen,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a press release on the verdict. “Today, Mr. Bratcher learned that he will also be held responsible for his actions on Aug. 21, 2009. I would like to thank Judge Fawell for ensuring that both sides received a fair trial in this case as well as the jury for seeing through Mr. Bratcher’s lies and seeing him for what he really is, a cold, calculating murderer. I would also like to thank the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, in particular Detectives Bob Harris and Tiffany Wayda, for their outstanding work in this case as well as my trial partner Mary Cronin for her vigorous pursuit of justice in the name of Carl Kuhn.”

Because the murder was found to be extremely brutal and heinous in nature indicative of wanton cruelty, Bratcher faces a maximum sentence of natural life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In court Thursday, a videoetape showed Bratcher kneeling over a prostrate Det. Harris during a 2009 interrogation to demonstrate how he pinned Kuhn facedown on a sofa while robbing his Bartlett home.

Bratcher initially denied on the videotape that he suffocated the retired lawyer so he and Allen could steal Kuhn’s extensive gun collection.

But after more than six hours of questioning, Bratcher ultimately told DuPage County sheriff’s detectives that his actions caused Kuhn’s death.

“You understand that you killed this man?” Harris asked on the tape.

“Yes,” Bratcher replied softly.

On tape, Bratcher described Kuhn — an avid gun collector and long-time official in the Illinois State Rifle Association — as his friend and former lawyer.

Bratcher’s attorneys have argued Allen alone killed Kuhn.

Prosecutors contend Allen and Bratcher together smothered Kuhn while stealing his collection of rifles, shotguns and pistols, which they planned to sell for drug money.

Bratcher repeatedly denied on tape that he killed Kuhn, even after he demonstrated for Harris in a police interview room how he straddled Kuhn and held his head down during the robbery.

“I wasn’t shoving him down, I was just holding his head. I didn’t kill him,” Bratcher insisted at one point during the Aug. 24, 2009, videotaped interview.

Bratcher blamed Allen for the killing, saying Kuhn was alive when he left him alone in a bedroom with Allen for several minutes.

“Keith finished it,” Bratcher said on the tape. “He had to, because I couldn’t do it.”

Later, though, Bratcher expressed regret for Kuhn’s death.

“I didn’t mean to kill Carl,” he said. “Carl was a friend.”

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