Woman previously incarcerated for the death of a man she injected heroin with in 2009 headed back to prison on new drug charges

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A Wauconda woman who had done a stint in prison for giving a man a fatal dose of heroin in 2009 then leaving him to die in a McHenry motel was sent back to prison Thursday for nine years on new drug charges.

Amanda Coots, 35, pleaded guilty in June to the manufacturing and delivery of between 1 and 15 grams of heroin. She also was re-sentenced Thursday to serve another three years on a 2015 drug-related charge for which she was on probation at the time of her arrest in October of 2017. That sentence will be served concurrent to the current judgement.

Coots asked McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather for probation and promised to get treatment for her drug addiction.

“I made a mistake that day,” she said. “I did what I did to support my habit.”

She promised Prather “you won’t ever see me in this courtroom again.”

Prather acknowledged Coots’ addiction but said she had been given multiple chances to recover, but has failed.

“I don’t buy or except the fact you haven’t been given proper tools,” Prather said. “I see what heroin does … I lose a defendant about once a month. You had many chances to get help, you chose not to.”

Her attorney Henry Sugden said Coots’ actions are a result of her own addiction for which she has never received proper treatment. He asked that she be sentenced to probation involving 30 days in treatment then six months in a halfway house.

In asking for the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese cited Coots’ multiple arrests and incarcerations since she was 18 years old.

“The fact that we are here again with this defendant is absolutely sickening,” Freese said.

Freese said Coots has “literally seen first-hand” what heroin can do to someone and she still chooses to sell “that poison.”

On June 6, 2009 Coots gave a fatal dose of heroin to Rustin “Rusty” Cawthon, of McHenry, authorities said.

Freese read from a statement Thursday given by Cawthon’s family at the time of her sentencing for his death.

The family wrote that Coots “… knew he was dying, but did nothing to try to help him. … She simply called a cab and took what was important to her, her syringes and drugs, and left what was not important to her, Rusty. As he struggled to breathe she simply drew the shades, turned off the lights and closed the door.”

The coroner said Cawthon, 36, likely suffered from one to four hours before dying, the family wrote.

Freese said “by the grace of God”  Coots “got a second chance” and uses it to sell heroin to other addicts. … She deserves no empathy.”

In the Cawthon case, Coots was convicted by a jury of drug-induced homicide and sentenced to 10 years in prison. That conviction was later overturned by an appellate court. In 2012, she pleaded guilty to an amended charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 7 1/2 years.

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