Lawyer: Developmentally disabled Portage Park man was defending himself when he stabbed dad to death

A developmentally delayed Portage Park man accused of stabbing his live-in father to death with a serrated kitchen knife was acting in self-defense after the two started arguing over rent money, the alleged killer’s lawyer said.

Brandon Haarman

James Haarman had been physically and emotionally abusive in the past but wanted to keep his 27-year-old son, Brandon, as a roommate so he could collect his disability checks, defense attorney Theodore Adams said Thursday.

On Tuesday night, the older man lunged at his son, threatening him in their apartment, in the 3900 block of North Long, Adams said.

So Brandon Haarman reached for the nearest weapon — a knife — to defend himself, the defense attorney said, adding that his client has been an emotional wreck since learning his father had died.

The younger Haarman stabbed his father 13 times in his chest, shoulder area and face, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Heather Kent said.

Brandon Haarman, whose mother is a 19-year-old Chicago Police veteran, has a learning disability and the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, Adams said, explaining that his client hasn’t been able to pass a driver’s license test.

“Basically he’s a kid,” Adams said following Thursday’s bond hearing where Brandon Haarman was ordered held in lieu of $700,000 bail.

“Mentally he’s not able to cope with this information [of his dad’s death]. He’s distraught. That’s his father.”

Brandon Haarman’s mother, stepfather and teenage sister, who attended the court hearing at 26th and California, refused comment. All three had waved at the alleged stabber before he was taken back into custody by sheriff’s deputies. Afterward, Brandon Haarman’s mother and sister buried their hands in their faces and cried.

Ed Boone, a neighbor who lives in the garden unit below where the fatal stabbing occurred, said he had heard arguments, loud noises and swearing from Haarman’s apartment several times a week, but that had stopped about four weeks ago after neighbors complained.

But on Tuesday evening, Boone said: “I heard fighting and swearing.”

Then he looked outside and saw Brandon Haarman smeared with blood.

Kent corroborated Boone’s story, describing how a neighbor heard yelling and then a thud. She also said a neighbor saw Brandon Haarman with blood and on his shirt and arm as emergency vehicles arrived.

Boone said he initially turned his TV down and thought about going upstairs during the fight, but he decided not to intervene. Asked if he regretted his decision, Boone said, “Kind of, but, then again, I’m not sure because of the possibility that … maybe he would have tried to take me out.”

Karen Kerber, who lives upstairs, got home about 5:30 p.m. and heard a voice yelling from the apartment where the stabbing occurred. “I just thought, ‘Here we go again.’ ”

“I’m just in shock. I can’t believe it,” Kerber said about the killing.
Adams said James Haarman, 53, was an alcoholic who mooched off his son and wouldn’t let him leave the house.

But a neighbor of the Haarmans had kinder words.

“Jim was such a nice guy who went out of his way to help us. He was always helping my daughter with her car, if her tires were low or if he was washing his car he’d wash her car too. And he’d call to remind us about street cleaning,” she said.

James Haarman was found lying on the kitchen floor, Kent said. The knife also was recovered.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire

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