Michael Case is getting better.
The Homewood resident and Amtrak conductor was shot in the abdomen by a passenger in May at a Naperville train station.
Edward Klein of West Allis, Wisconsin, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count each of aggravated battery, one count of aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
He was found mentally unfit to stand trial.
Case took the stand in Klein’s discharge hearing at the DuPage County courthouse Monday, telling the court what he experienced.
“I had some nervous energy the night before but that day I was ready. I had prepared myself,” Case told the H-F Chronicle. “I was ready to get up on that stand and to put this behind me, to move on with my life.”
A decision on Klein’s fate will come early next year.
“Facing Mr. Klein again, looking into his eyes, I wanted to do that. I wanted to look at him and show him, that ‘Hey, I made it, brother. You shot to kill but I’m still here,’” Case said. “I’ve got closure with this. All I can hope for Mr. Klein is that he gets put into a facility where they give him medical attention, a locked facility where he can’t be out in society where he can hurt somebody else again.”
Case was shot during an Amtrak stop at the Naperville train platform May 16. The conductor was standing on the train platform when Klein, 80, shot him through the window of a rail car.
Case later said he had tried to prevent Klein from leaving the train until his destination in Milwaukee. Klein has been in custody since the shooting.
About eight months into his recovery, Case says he’s doing much better. The restrictions on his diet are removed. His strength is coming back. The worst thing remaining, he said, is the scar tissue that sometimes pulls.
“I’m in a much better place than I was a few months ago,” Case said. “Each month, each week I feel progress.”
He’s scheduled for another surgery on Jan. 3 to reattach his small and large intestines. It’s expected to be the final surgery he needs. Once that heals, he’ll say goodbye to his ostomy bag.
“If all goes well, hopefully I’ll be whole again,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
He’ll stay at Edward Hospital in Naperville for about a week after the surgery, with a full recovery time of about five or six weeks.
Case is months ahead of the schedule doctors first gave him, he said. He hopes to be 100 percent again in the spring sometime, but that will depend on a variety of factors.
“It’s just a long row to hoe,” he said. “I was in the hospital from May 16 to July 21 and then came home and had nausea. I was sick and weak but slowly, steadily I got stronger and stronger.”
Getting back to work is another story. He may get back into light work after he recovers from the next surgery, he said.
“I’m not close to being able to do the duties and responsibilities required of me,” Case said. “We’ll see where I’m at (after the surgery).”
The HF Racquet and Fitness Club is playing host to portions of Case’s physical rehabilitation. He walks on the treadmill, uses the elliptical machine and does light lifting.
But the mental side still lingers. Case suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder but is getting help. He said taking the stand Monday furthered his progress.
But he also said the whole ordeal gave him a new perspective.
“When these senseless acts of violence happen, it doesn’t just hurt an individual. It takes a toll on a family, the children, spouse and your extended loved ones. This shakes up everyone. It’s a traumatic experience and the recovery is long and it turns your life upside down,” Case said. “Something needs to be done with gun control, with our system. It’s a system that fails. If a mentally ill, elderly man can carry a gun, anyone can get a gun. Something needs to be done about this.”