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Man guilty of stabbing ex-wife

‘I lost it,’ father of 3 says; sentencing scheduled Nov. 7

Jamil Saleh
Jamil Saleh

OREGON – An Ogle County jury found an Orland Park man guilty Tuesday of trying to murder his ex-wife when he stabbed her four times in a Rochelle park in 2009.

Jamil Saleh, 42, sat quietly in an orange jumpsuit and shackles as the jury rendered its verdict after deliberating 1 hour following a day and a half of testimony. He will be sentenced Nov. 7, and faces 6 to 30 years.

The jury also found Saleh guilty of armed violence, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and aggravated battery in a public place.

“We’re very happy with the jury’s verdict and we are happy for our victim,” Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Rock said.

Saleh’s attorney, public defender Dennis Riley, declined to comment.

Monday, Saleh’s ex-wife Maha Bergeron, 37, testified that Saleh stabbed her four times — twice in the chest, and in the hand and knee — during a meeting with her and their three children at Cooper Park in Rochelle on Aug. 13, 2009.

She said she divorced Saleh in April 2009 after 16 years of marriage while he was in Palestine for several months. She married Jason Bergeron, a Rochelle police officer, in July 2009.

Saleh seemed “fine” with the divorce and her remarriage in previous conversations prior to Aug. 13, she said.

Saleh was taken into custody that day. In an emotional interview with Ogle County Detective Brian Ketter, which was videotaped and played in court, he said that the divorce and her remarriage “caught him by surprise” and that he “went berserk” because he had lost his family and kids.

He denied planning the attack, claimed he just wanted to see his kids, and said he was angry because he had no visitation rights.

“It just happened so quick. ... I lost it,” he said in the interview, sobbing and yelling intermittently. “She said I would never get the kids. She kept saying over my dead body. She kept pushing, pushing. I just wanted her dead.”

Tuesday, Saleh told Ogle County Circuit Judge Mike Mallon that he wanted to testify in his own defense despite Riley’s legal advice not to take the stand.

Saleh said he was born in Palestine, was a Muslim, and therefore was brought up in a different culture. He said he had high respect for women, if they respected themselves.

He said that the divorce and his ex-wife’s marriage to a “white man” turned his life “upside down” and that he wanted to be part of his childrens’ lives on a regular basis.

He said he could not tolerate them being raised by someone who “hated his race.”

“I do thank God that she did not die,” he testified. “I know I will spend the rest of my life in prison.”

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