Drug Induced Homicide Trial: Dealer, days away from delivering child, found guilty of delivering a fatal dose

Just after 8 p.m. on Oct. 6, 2015 a 20-year-old woman was found blue, unresponsive and slumped over the edge of a bed in the basement of a Marengo home where she lived with her boyfriend and his mother.

“I tried to pull her up, I started screaming,” said Laurie Cool tearfully describing finding her son Brandon Smedley’s girlfriend, who overdosed after shooting a syringe full of heroin into her jugular vein.

Cool gave her emotional testimony Thursday during the drug-induced homicide trial of Durelle Hall who sat stoically.

Hall, who still faces additional drug-related charges she racked up while out on pre-trial bond, was found guilty Thursday after little more than an hour of jury deliberation. And as she has been throughout the lengthy trial, Hall showed no emotion as the verdict was read, but her parents wept behind her.

She faces up to 30 years in prison in Kumm’s death when sentenced in September.
During opening arguments this week in McHenry County, Ill., prosecutors said Hall, 26, sold Chelsie Kumm a lethal dose of heroin.

However, Hall’s defense attorneys said the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hall sold Kumm the lethal dose.

Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese said Hall, who is days away from delivering a baby, has chosen to make a living as a drug dealer, “selling … poison” and feeding the addiction of addicts.

“You are going to hear about Chelsie Kumm … who had her entire life ahead of her when (Hall) gave her a fatal dose of heroin.” Freese said

Kumm woke up that morning “heroin sick,” Freese said.

Her boyfriend, Smedley boarded a train in Crystal Lake headed to Chicago to buy heroin, but Kumm stayed behind because she said she could get the heroin locally. Smedley never saw her alive again.

Freese said Kumm called a friend to pick her up and she went back to his apartment in Crystal Lake where he gave her $50. Freese said Kumm told the friend the money was so she could buy her “medicine.” The friend gave her the money and 20 minutes later he saw Kumm go outside and make a quick exchange with someone who showed up in a gray vehicle, Freese said.

Kumm then told her friend she had to go home and “prepare” her medicine. The friend told police when he drove her home she went into the basement and never came back upstairs. When he called out to her and she didn’t respond, he left.

Police collected various colored baggies, needles and cooking instruments in the bedroom where Kumm was found. Among the paraphernalia were pink baggies later tested and proved positive for heroin and fentanyl.

Freese said the pink baggies are Hall’s signature drug dealing baggies. Prosecutors showed jurors text messages showing Kumm and Hall set up the drug deal that day. Other texts show Kumm telling Smedley she got heroin from Hall.

“It is very clear who sold (Kumm) the heroin … that killed her,” Freese said.

But defense attorney Vanessa Sheehan told jurors that though the whole story is “very sad” and Kumm and her family have been “ravished” by drugs and addiction -as has Hall’s own family- the state cannot prove it was Hall who sold the fatal dose of heroin to Kumm.

Even if they could prove she sold her heroin that night they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Hall’s drugs that killed her. During the trial jurors saw police photos showing various baggies in the room where Kumm was found, implying the couple bought heroin from other drug dealers.

Sheehan said Kumm’s addiction began at age 15 and when one is addicted “you live solely to feed that addiction.”

She added Kumm and Hall were friends who ran in the same social circles and that Kumm “was living solely to find her next fix. … She connected with a lot of people that day.”

Sheehan said Kumm was asking “everyone she knew to hook her up.”

Authorities found “a cocktail of substances … in Chelsie’s blood,” Sheehan said.

Noting additional drugs in her system, unaccounted periods of time and missing evidence Sheehan said the state “cannot prove who killed her. … There is nothing good coming out of this case.”

Smedley, 33, said he has battled a heroin addiction for 17 years and has been in recovery the past year. He testified that he and Kumm ingested heroin intravenously, several times daily throughout their relationship. They had made a pact in 2014 that they would work together daily to find heroin to use together. He said they could do between three and seven bags of heroin a day.

He said that morning they “ransacked” his mother’s home hoping to find heroin to help Kumm feel better. Later, he got a ride into Crystal Lake where he sold his mother’s Percocet and made $60, but when he could not score enough heroin for him and Kumm locally, he boarded a train to Chicago.

About 40 minutes into the trip he got a text from Kumm saying she had gotten $50 and was waiting to meet with Hall to bring her heroin. Smedley also said he and Kumm often bought heroin from Hall, including once while her young son was present in her car near his school.

He said Hall sold her heroin in pink or purple baggies, then identified the pink baggies in the room where Kumm overdosed in police photos.

When his mother called to tell him his girlfriend overdosed and to come home, Smedley was at Chicago Avenue and Cicero Avenue on Chicago’s westside.  Though he was not charged in her death he said he did not want to return home that night.

“I didn’t want to come home. I didn’t want to live anymore,” Smedley said adding he planned to ingest the heroin he scored and commit suicide. “I didn’t want to go to jail, be drug sick … I lost my lover.”

In closing arguments, Thursday Freese said Kumm had five times the lethal dose of heroin in her system.

She also noted Hall had overdosed herself in 2009 and claims to have last sold heroin around that time.

Freese referred to a police interview, which jurors saw this week, where Hall was crying saying she does not sell heroin and talking about her own overdose and her sister’s drug addiction. But, Freese said, she has no problem selling it “to someone else daughter or sister.”

“Someone who knows the power of that drug and sells it to others is just awful,” Freese said.

About a month after Kumm died police searched Hall’s apartment where they found no heroin but did find crack cocaine and five cell phones that prosecutors said were used for her drug business.

In closings, Sheehan said the state did not prove who had been texting with Kumm that day from phones that belonged to Hall. She sought to cast doubt on witnesses who are known felons and drug addicts including Smedley, who during his second day of testimony appeared to be nodding off just after receiving a methadone treatment.

She also cast doubt on whether Smedley went into the city that day and highlighted the fact that not all drug related items found in the home were tested including two syringes, one found in the basement near where Kumm overdosed that appeared to have water in it.

“That’s reasonable doubt,” Sheehan said.

Hall’s dad Michael, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., said he is “disappointed” with the verdict and doesn’t feel the state had the evidence to convict his daughter. He also expressed sadness for Kumm’s death and her family.

“We are devastated and so worried about the children,” he said of his 6-year-old grandson and Hall’s unborn baby.

Michael Hall, whose younger daughter also is a heroin addict currently in recovery, added that the heroin epidemic needs more attention and the county needs to do more for the addicts.

As she walked out of the courtroom, Kumm’s mom, Kristine Hensley of McHenry, Ill., said she was “very pleased” with the verdict though the ordeal has been “very stressful.”

While she said she is not a vindictive person, she hopes Hall gets a strict sentence though she knows “it’s not gonna bring her back … I just wanted justice.”

Woman who admitted to driving while high on heroin when she struck a motorcycle and killed a beloved mom and nurse sentenced to 16 years in prison

After apologizing to a packed courtroom of friends and family members of a woman she killed while driving under the influence of heroin last year, a 46-year-old woman was sentenced this week to 16 years in prison.

Sheree Ann Shaw of Twin Lakes, Wis., pleaded guilty in April to two counts of aggravated driving under the influence.

She admitted to driving a Ford Taurus, without a valid driver’s license, and crossing over the center lines along Richmond Road in McHenry, Ill., on the seemingly perfect dry and sunny afternoon of May 6, 2016.

Shaw struck a Harley-Davidson Rode Glide motorcycle driven by Michael Thornton who was traveling with a passenger, Amy Thornton, 42, his wife of nearly 20 years.

Michael Thornton, 40, has undergone several surgeries and painful rehabilitation since the crash. His wife, a well-known nurse at Centegra Hospital in Woodstock, never resumed consciousness. She died from her injuries nine days later in the hospital.

During the hourlong sentencing hearing, where Shaw and others often wept quietly, Michael Thornton broke down into tears detailing the “devastating” loss of his wife, multiple surgeries his painful emotional and physical rehabilitation and months of lost work.

He also said there has been a deep divide among once close family and friends and he has had to to rely on his son’s to help him with such basic tasks as showering. He said he has “screws in place to hold my left side together” and has “no use of his left foot.”

Michael Thornton said the day started out for the the two of them taking advantage of overdue vacation time from their jobs. They rode the motorcycle and had lunch in Lake Geneva, Wis., where they discussed their older son’s college plans. The Woodstock couple, who once enjoyed riding the motorcycle together, were on their way to his parents’ house in McHenry when they were struck.

He described the moments before the crash saying “I can’t stop hearing her voice saying ‘Mike’ … squeezing me (while I was) trying to avoid the collision.”

He then recalls lying on the pavement, seeing red knowing it was his own blood, and calling out for his wife who did not respond. Shaw broke down as he described these devastating moments.

The next time he would see her would be three days later “unresponsive to my voice” in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. She was braindead, he said.
He described his wife as his “best friend … (someone) who thought of others before herself.”

Michael Thornton said this was no accident as some have said. He said it “could have been avoided” but Shaw had “zero respect for the law that day” when she chose to drive a vehicle under the influence of heroin. Had she not done that “I would not have lost Amy.”

Michael Thornton read letters from his two sons who also sat in the courtroom.

His son Zachary Thornton said “I wish we could return to the way we once were.”
He said his mother “was the cohesiveness of our family. (Our family) was centered around our mom. We have to live without our mother for the rest of our lives.”

Younger son Michael Thornton wrote that his mom “was the nicest person … and (Shaw) took her away.”

Other family members spoke of her humor and selflessness. Her mother Susan Sweet said her daughter would have been one who would have helped Shaw with her addiction.

“The defendant will never know what she has taken from us,” Sweet said. “I hold her memory close to my heart because that is all I have.”

Shaw’s daughter Alexandria Burdette of Las Vegas said her mom is a “wonderful … person who has fallen to … drug addiction.”

She said her mother, also a nurse, had a difficult childhood with her own parents and a hard life. She suffered bipolar and depression and they often lived paycheck to paycheck, but her mother was always there for her and her two younger siblings and a “great mom” who showered them with “unconditional love.”

“She is my mentor, confidant, strength … dearest friend,” Burdette said.

But, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs described Shaw as a “selfish drug addict” and said the crime was “outrageous” and asked for the maximum prison sentence of 26 years.

“It was her choice to drive,” Combs said. “It was her choice to destroy that family.”

Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos said Shaw is remorseful for what she has done and by choosing to plead guilty and not drag the family through a trial shows she has “taken accountability.”

He said her drug addiction began with prescription drugs prescribed for health issues He said she began with amphetamines and cocaine in 2014 which lead to heroin and her addiction spiraled. In asking for leniency he said she has been in treatment since being in jail. He said she had a difficult childhood and was emotionally abused and is a caring person with “very limited” criminal history and unlike.y to commit another criminal act.

Shaw stood and said “I was not in my right mind at the time of the accident.”
She said she has had sleepless nights and will continue to “carry the burden of knowing” she killed Amy Thornton.

Shaw asked the judge for leniency and apologized to the nearly 30 family and friends in the courtroom who were wearing T-shirts with Amy Thornton’s picture on the front and angel wings on the back.

“Please give me a chance to right my wrong … I am not a bad person. I’m begging you to forgive me even though I cannot give back what you have lost.”

In handing down the sentence Judge Sharon Prather said she believed Shaw was remorseful. She noted Shaw’s long history of drug addiction and said “it’s a shame that it got to this point.”

She gave condolences to the family and acknowledged that no sentence will bring back Amy Thornton.

“This is a horrendous crime,” Prather said. “This is a serious crime.”

She is required to serve 85 percent of her sentence and will receive credit for time served in jail since last year.

Man freed from prison after reversal of murder conviction of Johnsburg Ill. teen suing for “millions”

Mario Casciaro – convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison for the 2002 murder of a Johnsburg Ill. teen and later released – is suing those who brought on his conviction for “millions” of dollars.

After two murder trials, the first ending in a hung jury, Casciaro, 33,
was convicted in 2013 for the murder of 17-year-old Brian Carrick in a mysterious case that has rattled the quiet far northwest town.

The jury found Casciaro guilty of the rarely used charge of murder with intimidation, meaning he set into motion the events that led to Carrick’s death.

Carrick worked as a stock boy at a grocery store across the street from his home on Johnsburg Road. He was a well-liked boy who grew up in a large Irish Catholic family with 13 siblings.

The store, at the time named “Val’s Finer Foods” was partially owned by the Casciaro family. Authorities have long said that Casciaro sold pot from the grocery store and used Carrick as one of his dealers.

During both trials, a third co-worker, Shane Lamb the alleged “muscle” of the operation according to prosecutors, said Casciaro summoned him to the store on the night of Dec. 20 2002 to “talk” to Carrick about a drug dealing debt.

The confrontation turned violent and Lamb testified that he punched Carrick knocking him unconscious on the floor inside a produce cooler. He said Casciaro told him to leave the store and he would take care of the body.

Lamb said he never saw Carrick again.

Carrick’s blood was located in an around the cooler area and on boxes in a dumpster outside the store – but his body has never been found.

Rumors of his disappearance and presumed murder swirled around the small town nestled near the Wisconsin border for nearly a decade before Casciaro’s arrest.

In 2010, while facing a lengthy prison term in an unrelated drug case, Lamb — with a growing rap sheet who gave varying accounts to authorities over the years of what happened to Carrick — was given a deal to testify against Casciaro in exchange for immunity.

But, in a nationalized television program, while in jail facing weapons charges, Lamb recanted the tale he told on the stand twice and accused prosecutors of telling him what to say to convict Casciaro — accusations prosecutors vehemently deny.

About a year later, Casciaro was released from prison after an appellate court ruled that the state’s case was improbable and Lamb’s testimony did not match the physical evidence found at the scene.

The appellate judges also believed Casciaro’s lawyer Kathleen Zellner who asserted there was blood evidence and testimony that the jury never heard that did not match up with Lamb’s story. She claims blood evidence shows Carrick died not by a punch and fall to the cold, concrete floor, but by a knife wound to the neck.

Zellner pointed the finger at another store employee, whose blood also was found in and around the cooler. In earlier police interviews this man was asked why his blood would be found in the cooler and he said he often bit his nails low and he would bleed. This man was never charged with the murder and had died of a drug overdose while staying in a halfway house sometime between the two trials. In 2008, he was charged with concealment in the case but those charges were later dropped.

In the lawsuit, Casciaro is seeking monetary damages from Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs, McHenry County and the entire McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office, as well as Johnsburg Police Chief Keith Von Allmen, the city of Johnsburg and the entire Johnsburg Police Department.

In the lawsuit, Zellner accuses authorities of “deliberately withholding” exculpatory evidence including this other co-workers behavior in the days after Carrick went missing and his alleged absence during his work shift. She wrote that evidence was not shown to jurors that would have shone light on this man as the “actual culprit.”

The lawsuit also accuses Von Allmen of being biased in the investigation because he was friends with this man’s father. The motion further claims interviews were not reported or presented to jurors regarding witnesses where it was supposedly said that this man had “hostility” toward Carrick.

Zellner, who requested a jury trial in the civil matter, also made strong claims that Combs out of his “sheer dislike” of Casciaro “fabricated” and “concocted” the story that jurors heard Lamb testify to. She claims that authorities knew Casciaro was innocent and ignored evidence that could have been presented to jurors to show his innocence.

Zellner claims that Casciaro’s ”unjust conviction” was done “intentionally” and was a violation of his rights resulting in a loss of his freedom, emotional distress, great mental anguish … humiliation, indignities, and embarrassment … natural psychological development … personal contact .. personal fulfillment … .”

The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s office firmly stands by its prosecution of Casciaro and zealously denies any wrongdoing or fabrication of any type.

Prosecutors have argued their case was not based solely on Lamb’s account of what happened that night -as Zellner asserts- but also by testimony of several other witnesses who testified that Casciaro was selling marijuana out of the store and Carrick owed him money. During the trials they identified one man who claimed he saw the two allegedly arguing that night. Prosecutors also stand by one witness who testified that Casciaro allegedly claimed that he can “make people disappear.” They also note to another  witness who testified that Casciaro allegedly told him a similar account of what happened the night Carrick went missing. They further point to Casciaro’s own alleged unaccounted for whereabouts for a period of time that night and his own inconsistent stories and behavior during police interviews as disinterested and arrogant.

Authorities in the case say they are not surprised by the latest motion.

“We knew this was coming,” said McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally who along with Combs prosecuted Casciaro. “This is an opportunistic lawsuit filed on behalf of a defendant convicted of felony murder by a McHenry County jury. The allegations in the lawsuit, while imaginative, are entirely without merit. We are eager for our day in court to prove where the real injustice lies and, once again, the sad truth about what happened to Brian Carrick in 2002.”

Casciaro’s release was held up by the Illinois Supreme Court which denied the state’s objection.

Casciaro, who is currently attending law school, also is seeking a certificate of innocence from the county. In an earlier court hearing Kenneally passionately argued that just because the appellate court ruled there was not sufficient evidence to convict Casciaro “beyond a reasonable doubt” that  is a “far cry from declaring him innocent.”  This matter will be back in court May 11.

Carrick’s parents, William and Terry, both have died not knowing what happened to their son or allowed the opportunity to properly bury or grieve him.

Neither Von Allmen nor Carrick’s family could be reached for comment.

In past statements, a family member of the co-worker on whom Zellner places the blame for Carrick’s death, has strongly defended his innocence. He was not identified by name in this story because he was not charged with murder, never testified in the Casciaro case and has since died.  The relative and the man’s former lawyer have voiced strong opposition and disgust with this man being used as a “scapegoat” in Carrick’s death, and have asked that his name not continue to be tarnished.  The female relative has described this man as a son, brother and father and proclaimed he had nothing to do with Carrick’s murder.

$3 million bond set for ex-Chicago cop charged with allegedly shooting, killing wife on her 68th birthday

Amanda Marrazzo

Bond was increased Thursday to $3 million for a former Chicago police officer accused of shooting and killing his wife in their Spring Grove home last week.

Lorin Volberding, 71, was brought out before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather in a wheelchair as prosecutors asked to increase his bond from $1 million to $5 million.

Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud said Volberding is a “significant danger” to himself and others.

Zalud said Volberding’s home is valued at $299,000 therefore he could potentially post the required 10 percent of the lower bond. He also said he read police reports stating that Volberding called his neighbor on Friday afternoon and said he had shot his wife. The neighbor called police and when they arrived Zalud said Volberding in “a clear and coherent manner” is heard and seen on police body cameras saying “I shot my wife … give me a few minutes…

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$3 million bond set for ex-Chicago cop charged with allegedly shooting, killing wife on her 68th birthday

Bond was increased Thursday to $3 million for a former Chicago police officer accused of shooting and killing his wife in their Spring Grove home last week.

Lorin Volberding, 71, was brought out before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather in a wheelchair as prosecutors asked to increase his bond from $1 million to $5 million.

Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud said Volberding is a “significant danger” to himself and others.

Zalud said Volberding’s home is valued at $299,000 therefore he could potentially post the required 10 percent of the lower bond. He also said he read police reports stating that Volberding called his neighbor on Friday afternoon and said he had shot his wife. The neighbor called police and when they arrived Zalud said Volberding in “a clear and coherent manner” is heard and seen on police body cameras saying “I shot my wife … give me a few minutes and I’ll tell you everything that happened.”

Police found Elizabeth Volberding lying on dead on her kitchen floor with a gun nearby. It was her 68th birthday.

Zalud also told the judge about an incident in January of 2015 when authorities said he had barricaded himself and his wife inside their home and threatened to kill her.
Volberding’s firearm owner’s identification card was revoked after this incident but he was not charged.

Spring Grove Police said at the time Elizabeth Volberding, who also was known as Betty, reported that her husband was diagnosed with dementia.

In arguing against the increase, Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos noted Volberding’s current condition making it difficult to “ascertain his assets now.”

In court Volberding appears somewhat weak, incoherent and disheveled.

“Based on his age and (having) no real criminal background I think the $1 million is fair,” Mourelaots said.

Earlier this week, Volberding walked before the judge with the assistance of a sheriff’s deputy. He was visibly trembling and disoriented. Prather ordered that Volberding undergo a physical and mental health evaluation.

Elizabeth Volberding’s son was in court Thursday but left without comment.

McHenry County lawyer convicted of manufacturing child porn

A Crystal Lake attorney was found guilty this week of manufacturing child pornography involving a 14-year-old girl inside a family changing area at an Algonquin fitness center.

A McHenry County judge ruled that James T. Zeas, 48, of Lake Barrington, recorded video of the girl as she undressed inside a bathroom at LifeTime Fitness Club in Algonquin. His case was heard before Judge Michael Feetterer rather than a jury.

Feetterer read his ruling stating that he had considered all the evidence including the factors present which made the video rise to the level of being lewd. Saying the video did show the young girl “partially nude” revealed her breasts and its recording appeared to be “intended to illicit a sexual response.”

He also noted that Zeas was seen on the video during both attempts to record the girl and seen trying to hide the camera with paper towels and a red hat.

The video appeared to be shot by a “voyeur” as part of “sexually deviant behavior,” Feetterer said.

Zeas, whose bond was immediately revoked, nervously ran his hands through his hair, rubbed and wrinkled his face several times during the judge’s ruling.

In closing arguments held last month Assistant State’s Attorney Kate Lenhard likened Zeas to a “voyeur” and a “peeping tom.”

Lenhard said in the summer of 2009, without the girl’s knowledge, Zeas set up a camera inside the bathroom, left then waited for her to change from her street clothes into a bathing suit. But his first attempt failed as the girl was out of the camera’s view.

Lenhard said that later that day after the girl swam Zeas tried again. She said he is seen on the video adjusting the camera’s angle to capture a larger view, he then covers the camera with a red hat and leaves the bathroom. Shortly after the girl enters and changes from her swimsuit into street clothes. This time she was captured on the video and her breasts were “exposed” to the camera as part of Zeas’ ”covert observation.”

Lenhard said the girl was not posing or aware of the camera. She thought she was alone and private not knowing “the peeping tom is watching.”

“He took the innocence of a child … he manufactured that into a voyeuristic (video) … that he then kept.” Lenhard said.

The images were discovered on Zeas’ laptop in 2011 by his wife who was “horrified” by what she saw, Lenhard said. The woman kicked Zeas out of their Crystal Lake home and filed for divorce. The videos were eventually turned over to authority.

When his then wife asked about the videos Lenhard said Zeas’ response was: “You don’t understand them, It’s not what it seems, I’ll lose my (law) license … he never says ‘I didn’t do it,’ “ Lenhard said.

However, Barry Lewis, Zeas’ defense attorney, argued that when the videos were turned over to authorities in 2015 the couple was in a “contentious” divorce and custody battle.

Lewis charged that Zeas’ ex-wife, who works with mainframes in the banking industry, somehow manufactured the videos herself. He also said that the girl did not look underage in the videos and that the images do not rise to the level of pornography because they are not sexually provocative, not recorded in a sexually suggestive setting and do not show the girl’s lower genitals.

“There is nothing sexually suggestive about the way she was in the video,” he said.

The lawyer also argued that in 2009 iPhones did not have the capability of video recording, however the state has said in previous court proceedings that they never specified what device actually made the recordings.

You “have to believe someone else created this video,” Lewis said.

A representative from LifeTime Fitness said in an email that Zeas’ actions “clearly were not in line with our policies or expectations.”

The company cooperated with the investigation and will remain “vigilant” in enforcing their policies, said Natalie Bushaw, director public relations

There is “no tolerance for unacceptable behaviors or actions,” she wrote.

Zeas is set for sentencing March 29.

Man sentenced to prison after violating probation for delivering heroin that ended his young girlfriend’s life

After violating the “gift” of probation received last year for delivering the heroin that led to his 21-year-old girlfriend’s death, a McHenry County Illinois man was again scolded by the presiding judge then sentenced to three years in prison.

Though with time served and day-for-day credit authorities say Cody Hillier, 25, will likely spend just days in an Illinois Department of Corrections facility.

Hillier admitted to using drugs in October which violated terms of his two year probation he received in July. After his arrest he was remanded back to McHenry County jail to await his sentencing.

“What is it going to take to get you off drugs and turn your life around,” asked Judge Sharon Prather, the same judge who sentenced him to probation in July and told him he must testify against anyone related to his girlfriend’s death.

Last month Hillier, dressed in orange jail issued clothing, testified against James Linder, 36, of Zion. He said on Jan. 30, 2015 he bought 1 1/2 grams of heroin from Linder. He testified that he ingested the heroin throughout the day with his girlfriend who died hours later in the early morning hours of Jan. 31.

When help arrived Hillier lied and said his girlfriend was having an asthma attack delaying the use of naloxone, a substance used to reverse the deadly affects of opioids. By the time he told first responders she had ingested drugs it was too late for the substance to work. Soon after she was pronounced dead at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin.

Linder was found guilty of drug induced homicide and is set to be sentenced Feb. 24.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-drug-induced-homicide-all-white-jury-met-20170113-story.html

Since being back in the county jail where Linder also is being held, Hillier has been in protective custody. During the trial Hillier said he had been threatened by Linder and another man not to testify.

Hillier told Prather at this week’s sentencing hearing he relapsed on drugs at a time when he was under a lot of pressure knowing he was going to testify against Linder.

He said now that the trial is over that pressure has been lifted.

Prather asked what his plans are and he said that he has a union job waiting for him in Wisconsin.

In asking for a prison term of seven years Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese said Hillier’s “repeated selfish … criminal behavior” has carried “tragic and fatal consequences.”

In referring to the night of his girlfriend’s fatal overdose she said Hillier lied to those who could have saved her life.

“He knew he had the chance to do the right thing and he didn’t do it,” Freese said.

Then, just roughly three months into his probation, what she referred to as “the gift of a lifetime” Hillier violates his probation.

Freese asked for a sentence that would send a message to the community.

“He watched his girlfriend take her last breath from a drug he gave her,” she said adding that she does not know what else it will take for Hillier to turn his life around.

“(Hillier) is going to wind up dead or in IDOC,” she said.

In asking for probation so he could get the treatment he needs for his drug addiction, assistant public defender Rick Behof said Hillier “has a good heart” but he “made bad choices.”

“He has a substance abuse problem,” Behof said. “No matter what this court does to him he’s gonna have to address that.”

As his late girlfriend’s father silently looked on in the courtroom, as he has done for most court events for Hillier and Linder, Hillier told the judge he is “sorry for what happened.”

Prather, like the first time she sentenced him, gave Hillier a stern warning.

“I don’t think you are a bad person … I think you are a heroin addict. If you don’t get off the drugs you are gonna have a miserable life. Your consequences will get worse and worse. You will be in and out of IDOC or wind up dead.”