A jury in Belvidere, Monday, found a woman not guilty of murder in the Feb. 2, 2013 stabbing death of Forest Parker Jacob Van Zant, 20, a former student at OPRF High School. A jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for almost five hours before clearing Jamie Page, 21, of all charges at Boone County Courthouse.
Page’s defense lawyers maintained that the death of Page’s boyfriend was accidental. They said Van Zant had fallen onto a scalpel trying to remove it from her hands because she was trying to harm herself, which defense attorneys said she did to “relieve stress.”
According to reports, the two had argued after Van Zant allegedly deleted photographs of an ex-boyfriend from Page’s Facebook page. The two had been dating for more than a year, the victim’s father said.
An autopsy showed the wound in Van Zant’s chest was 2 inches deep and had penetrated the lining of his heart, according to reports in the Rockford Register Star. Defense wounds were found on Van Zant’s hands, the report said.
The jury heard a recording of Page’s 911 call and watched video of her interrogation with the Belvedere police, where she re-enacted the stabbing.
The jury was given the choice of “murder one or nothing,” said the victim’s father Rod Van Zant, of River Forest, who attended the three-day trial. He referred to Page as a “troubled girl” from whom the family had advised their son to take a break.
Page spent 18 months in the Boone County jail after her arrest. She appeared in court with a bandaged face.
“I’m upset at the outcome,” Van Zant said. “But I put myself in the jury’s shoes. If this was possibly a bad accident, could you live with yourself putting someone away for 40 years plus for what was possibly an accident?”
Jacob Van Zant, son of Rod Van Zant and Forest Parker Cathie Stafford, grew up in Forest Park attending Grant-White and Forest Park Middle School. He moved to River Forest and attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. Jacob was a natural cook and loved to prepare Italian food, said his godfather John Tidd, also a chef.
“This is sad on both sides. It’s devastating and terrible,” said Tidd, who hopes to start a scholarship fund for culinary school for an OPRF student in Jacob’s name.
“He was my only son. I love my son. I miss him terribly,” Rod Van Zant said. “He got mixed up with someone who was not right and paid the ultimate consequence.”
This story has been updated to reflect the number of jurors (minus alternates) who deliberated at the trial and to correct the spelling of Rod Van Zant’s name and Jamie Page’s age.