Man who killed mom with baseball bat claims it was accidental

Image 1 of 2

A college student from northwest suburban Campton Hills appeared in a Kane County courtroom Tuesday on charges he beat his mother to death with a baseball bat. The student's attorney calls it a horrible accident. 

Three years ago, Tom Summerwill posted a photo with his mom Bridget, writing, “Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the world.”

Now, he is charged with second-degree murder for killing his mom with a baseball bat early one morning in March. 

“She suffered repeated blunt trauma to her head area,” said Joe McMahon, Kane County State’s Attorney. 

Summerwill, a popular pre-law student at the University of Wisconsin, appeared in bond court Tuesday. Prosecutors say that around 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 24, Summerwill awoke in his home and mistook his mother for an intruder.  

“It devastated him. Obviously, I couldn't explain how somebody lives with this event, I don't know how Thomas will do it,” said Liam Dixon, Defense Attorney. “Again, as I said before, there's nothing the state can do to him that will be worse than what's happened to this point.

Prosecutors say Summerwill may have believed that an intruder was in his room, but that that belief was unreasonable and fueled by alcohol.

“He had an unreasonable belief that he was justified in using this force,” said McMahon.

Summerwill’s attorney says his client had just returned from abroad and had a few drinks with friends the night before the incident. He says that, plus some jet lag, may have created the early morning confusion.

“My thought was he'd been staying at Airbnb’s, and hostels in Europe, that obviously changes one's mindset when you’re staying in a different place,” said Dixon.

Dixon says he's hoping the outcome here won't include prison time. Summerwill is out on bond.