Woman Acquitted in Fatal Party Punch Death

John Powell died after being punched by Tiffany Startz as part of a bet during a September 2010 party

A Joliet woman who delivered a fatal punch to a man during a party game last year was acquitted of reckless conduct and battery charges on Wednesday.

Tiffany Startz, 22, went on trial last week for a punch she threw at a Crest Hill garage party that killed John Powell of Romeoville in September 2010. Powell, a rapper who performed at the party, took a bet from Jimmy Mounts, 28, also of Romeoville, who promised $5 to anyone willing to take a hit from Startz.

Startz's defense attorneys argued the charges should be dismissed because the punch was consensual and last week asked Will County Judge Edward Burmila to grant them a directed verdict. They said prosecutors didn't prove Startz's guilt.

Burmila granted that request Wednesday morning.

Video from a cell phone was shown during the trial of the 5'8", 140 pound Powell standing before Startz with his arms behind his back. Startz took her ring off before throwing a closed-fisted, right-handed punch.

"I punched him and he just kind of stepped back and said, 'Wow, nice job,'" Startz said to police during a videotaped interview shown during her trial.

The Will County Coroner said the impact ruptured an artery in Powell's neck, causing blood to pool around his brain. Powell collapsed and was taken to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was pronounced dead.

Powell's mother maintains that she would like to see Startz sent to jail.

"John took it ... he took the bet to get hit, he didn't take the bet to die," Theresa Guy said during the trial.

Following Wednesday morning's hearing, Startz’s parents stopped to offer their condolences to Guy.

"Nobody wins here," Guy said to reporters as she left the building.

Another man, Jimmy Mounts, was charged with arranging the bet.  Now 28, he avoided trial by pleading guilty last week to lying to police about what happened. He initially told officers Powell tripped and fell.

Romeoville resident Theresa Guy holds a photo taken with her son John Powell Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, in Romeoville. Powell was killed after he accepted a $5 bet from Jimmy Mounts to take a hit from Tiffany Startz. Photo: Matthew Grotto, Sun-Times Media
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