Is St. Clair County Board of Review Chairman Kevin Malone, who is white, a felony defendant accused of beating a black teenager and shouting racial epithets or is he the victim of an alleged beating at the hands of a black man Malone found squatting in his mother's vacant Cahokia home?
The answer is both.
"It's ironic, I guess," Malone said. "People who know me say this could only happen to me."
On Oct. 22, JoAnn Malone, Kevin's wife, walked into his mother's former home at 8 St. Ann Circle in Cahokia and found Martrell D. Hand and an unidentified woman sleeping on the couch.
"I went in and told them to leave," Malone said. "The woman got up and left and then he started mouthing. I pulled out my cellphone started taking pictures of him inside there and he got up and took a swing at me," Malone said.
The Cahokia Police arrived just after Hand left the home, Malone said, but they caught up with him. Hand was charged with criminal trespass to residence, battery and possession of cannabis.
Hand, 23, posted bond and was released.
The case was set for trial on Sept. 19, but Hand got picked up on a felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon charge in an unrelated case and was in the county jail the day of the trial. Prosecutors opted to consolidate the cases.
"Hand's misdemeanor cases are now consolidated into the more serious felony case docket," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said.
The incident with Hand occurred just weeks after Malone was charged with felony hate crime.
But that won't matter when it comes to prosecuting either man.
"The prosecution of Defendant Malone and Defendant Hand have no bearing on each other," Kelly said.
Hand's public defender Erin Conner declined to comment.
In Malone's case, Malone and a neighborhood teen, Karry Carter Jr., of 118 Kenneth Ave., were initially charged with disorderly conduct under a local ordinance in Cahokia after the July 8, 2011, dispute that occurred at Malone's former home at 251 St. John Drive. Cahokia village attorney Carmen Durso dismissed the charges against Carter and Malone, allowing the state's attorney to file the felony charges against Malone.
Malone has said the teen started the fight that left him with two black eyes and a cut on his face. Malone and the teen exchanged racial epithets and Carter challenged him to fight, according to Malone's account.
Carter and other witnesses told police that Malone started the fight, calling Carter and two other teens racial slurs. They said Malone grabbed Carter by the hair and threw the first punch to Carter's face, according to reports.
Malone, 52, was charged with two felony counts of hate crime.
Malone contended the hate crime charges were politically motivated because of his opposition to then-Mayor Frank Bergman.
"I wouldn't play party politics with the Cahokia election and Frank Bergman," Malone said. "That's why Brendan (Kelly) put these charges on me. If I would have been anyone else, he wouldn't have put these charged me with this."
Kelly countered that his office is currently prosecuting 12 other Democratic public officials.
"This defendant is free to speak his mind," Kelly said. "My duty is to protect his right to a fair trial and until then I will refrain from speaking my mind."
Malone's charges are pending.
"The People anticipate a trial in the hate crime case against Malone," Kelly said.
The legal bills have stacked up, Malone said, but he's prepared to go to trial.
"What else can I do?" Malone said.
Malone did not seek re-election to the Board of Review, where he currently earns an annual salary of $42,230 to serve on a three-member board that handles property owners' complaints concerning their assessments and other property tax matters.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2570.