ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa -- Nearly three years after the punch that changed his life, a Chicago police officer is eager to get out of an Iowa prison and maybe get home in time to catch a baseball game.
The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed Michael Mette's assault conviction on Wednesday and ordered a lower court to acquit the officer.
Mette must wait up to 20 days while the Iowa attorney general's office decides whether to ask the Iowa Supreme Court to review the ruling, although a state spokesman said a decision would likely come sooner.
"At this point, I just want to get back to normal and go on with my life," Mette told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday at the state prison in Rockwell City, where he's serving a five-year sentence.
"I'm kind of hoping that it doesn't take the 20 days because my Cubbies are in the playoffs and I'm kind of hoping to maybe catch a game."
Mette's troubles began on Oct. 9, 2005, when he celebrated his brother's 25th birthday in Dubuque and went to a party at the home of Jake Gothard. Mette and his friends quickly left, but Gothard became angry. He followed them and began pushing and hitting the officer.
Mette responded with a punch that fractured Gothard's nose, cheek and jaw.
"Was I acting as police officer? Absolutely not," Mette said. "If it happened to anybody else I wouldn't want them to react any other way. Make sure you're safe. It would have been really bad to set a precedent to say somebody can attack you on your relative's property and not be given the right to protect yourself."
He added: "It's a shame that it had to go through all of this. But, it's finally done. I think the appeals court finally got the right ruling."
Wearing an orange sweat shirt and sporting a beard and chin-length brown hair, the 31-year-old Mette looked many other inmates. And for the most part, the police officer said those inmates had treated him well.
On his way in to the interview, other inmates could be heard congratulating him on the court ruling.
"The inmates, the other guys I work -- I hate calling them inmates -- with the other guys I live with here, for the most part everybody has been pretty supportive," Mette said.
He's been doing various types of work, including shoveling snow in the winter and performing duties at some nearby colleges.
Asked if he hopes to be compensated for his time while incarcerated, Mette said he had not spoken with an attorney about any kind of financial matters or lawsuits.
"If they can send me back to 2005, they can keep any kind of money and let me make this a bad nightmare that never happened," he said.
Mette admitted he's concerned that his experience with the judicial system and in prison could make returning to work difficult. After the altercation with Gothard, he was put on a desk job at a call center.
"I'm three years older than I was. A lot has changed," he said. "I don't think my mind-set has changed, but until I get out of here I won't know."
As for Gothard, Mette said there's nothing he'd want to say to him.
"There's no hard feelings," he said. "Would I rather not have had this happen? Absolutely. But, I just want it over, and that's that. He goes on with his life and I go on with mine. You know, you take it from there."
Since the conviction was reversed, Mette can return to the Chicago Police Department.