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

coots_amanda (1)

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.

Another take on the disappearance of Brian Carrick – new podcast retells the mystery

On the evening of Dec. 20, 2002 in a small Illinois town near the Wisconsin border a 17-year-old boy went missing.Carrick Poster

To many this first sentence will spark a complicated web of details, names, courtroom testimony, rumors and alleged lies in the yet unsolved disappearance and presumed murder of Brian Carrick.

The story has been a part of my life since 2007 when I first sat down with Brian’s mother, Terry. Brian was one of her 14 children. She and her husband raised their large Catholic family in a white house that set across the street from Val’s grocery store. Many of the Carrick children had worked at Val’s at one time or another. Val’s is where her son Brian, 11th of her 14 children, was last seen alive.

Though his blood was found in and around a produce cooler at Val’s, her son’s body has never been found. Authorities say a fight over a drug debt led to the young man’s death.

Today, nearly 16 years later, there is no one serving prison time for Brian’s murder and lawyers are wrangling hoping to settle big dollar lawsuits.

The story has been the topic of many newspaper articles and TV news reports, as well as an hourlong episode of ABC’s 2020 entitled “Mystery on Johnsburg Road.”

And with each report of Brian’s story comes more confusion, a myriad of characters and perpetrators (depending on whose story you believe), but no definite answers. Stories change, memories fade, and still the family waits to learn the truth. The story has divided the small town of Johnsburg, in some cases pitting local families against each other.

Well yet another storyteller is investigating Brian’s case.

Just last week a 10-part podcast entitled “Framed” was released on iTunes. The producers gathered details from police reports, court testimony and other sources and created the podcast in the hopes of telling the story in a fair and complete way.

They tell the story by using voice actors to recreate actual moments in police interrogation rooms and courtrooms.

They ask the listener to keep close attention to detail and to consider all the evidence before deciding who to believe.

I admit when I first learned about the existence of this podcast I was skeptical about its purpose. But as I listen I am beginning to feel the producers are genuine and striving to tell the story without leaning the listener one way or another.

Knowing the story as well as I think I do I was surprised by a couple details I heard in the podcast. I do not feel the producers are trying to manipulate or sway me and I appreciate that.

I won’t rehash the confusing details of the crime and its aftermath here as many of you reading this know much of what I have written about Brian and all the others whose lives have been made so public. I do encourage you to reread past stories here on my blog, but I also encourage you to listen to Framed.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/framed-an-investigative-story/id1422906504?mt=2

I do hope that this new approach brings about something positive for the family of Brian Carrick. Sadly, his parents have each died, but I can’t help but believe they are with their son and they now know the truth.

Please leave a comment and review of the podcast here.

Judge to decide if man who killed wife and left her body in their home for two days before attempting suicide is guilty of first-degree murder

Judge to decide if man who killed wife and left her body in their home for two days before attempting suicide is guilty of first-degree murder

A McHenry man who admitted to fatally stabbing his wife in 2016 and leaving her body in the basement of their home for two days was a “freeloader” who didn’t want to lose his “meal ticket,” prosecutors said Tuesday in closing arguments at the trial of Anthony Harrison.

“It is hard to imagine anyone more guilty of first-degree murder,” Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud told Judge James Cowlin who will rule on the case Sept. 12.

Zalud said Harrison, 33, was unemployed and facing domestic battery charges stemming from an incident just a few months prior to her death on June 4.

He described Laura Harrison as a friend, daughter and co-worker who should have lived a long, happy life instead “she got butchered in her own home.”

He said her husband likely stabbed her to death in the kitchen sometime June 4, then drug her body to the basement. He then drove her car to area stores and bought items such as a shovel, wheelbarrow, bleach, a 31-gallon garbage can, wood and fire starter, scrambling to find the way to get rid of her body and hide his crime.

Two days later he attempted to slash his own throat then called 911 for help and reported that his wife’s dead body was in the basement and that he had killed her.

Some evidence pointed to the possibility that over those two days he was planning on burning down the house and her with it, while other details of the crime scene – such as a deep hole freshly dug in the backyard – suggested he planned to bury her body.

Seasoned police officers called the crime scene – her graying remains covered in dried blood, deep stab wounds to her neck, lying in a basement laundry room covered in firewood with a gas can nearby – as “horrific.”

And it was “all because she wanted to leave an abusive life, she wanted the opportunity to be happy,” Zalud said.

But Harrison’s attorney, assistant public defender Kim Messer, said it was Laura Harrison who was in control of the situation in the days leading to her death.

She said the 30-year-old woman was the provocateur in a situation that led to her death. Messer asked the judge to find Harrison not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder.

During the trial hundreds of photos and pieces of evidence, such as receipts, store surveillance videos, internet searches and text messages were presented. Messer acknowledged the sheer “volume of evidence” but said that “is not indicative of the strength of the evidence.” She urged Cowlin to take his time and look at the “small things.”

She said Harrison was calm around his wife in the days prior to her death as she texted a family member saying she wanted him out of the house and threatened to call the police on him. Laura Harrison also called the McHenry County Crisis Center and the non-emergency McHenry police line and asked how to have him put out of the house. She was told he could not be removed from the house unless he was violent.

“Laura Harrison (was) in control of the relationship,” Messer said. “Anthony Harrison (was) trying to follow the rules.”

After he killed her he felt guilty and “between June 4 and 6 he was trying to figure out how to kill himself,” Messer said noting all the blood evidence from his self-inflicted neck wounds. “(Harrison) couldn’t believe it once he realized what he did,” Messer said.

She pointed to statements Harrison made to Dr. Richard Dilger, a clinical social worker at Advocate Condell Hospital in Libertyville, that “things were getting out of control” when he killed his wife.

Messer then read texts between Laura Harrison and her sister from June 3 where she is saying: “I just want him gone, he causes me too much stress.”
Messer also noted Dilger’s testimony when he said Harrison was suicidal and said he wanted to set himself on fire.

And this all occurred, Messer said, as “mutual combat” that led to her death “and him spending two days trying to figure out what to do.”

In earlier testimony city of McHenry Police Sgt. Nicholas Clesen said the last text message sent from Laura Harrison’s cell phone was at 6:33 p.m. Saturday June 4. Authorities believe she was killed between 6 and 10 p.m. that evening.

Her last text was sent to Anthony’s grandmother saying “He can only stay here if he leaves me alone.” At 8:20 p.m. that same evening, her cell phone received a text from a woman saying “Thinking of you and hoping you are OK.” This and three other texts received on her cell that evening were never opened, Clesen said.

Clesen also went through searches Anthony Harrison made on his cell phone beginning at 10:04 p.m. that same evening and continuing until Monday morning.

He searched: ”What happens if you cut the juggler vein” several times in various wording. He also searched “How quickly can someone bleed to death from a cut artery” and “can you buy a firearm while on trial for battery in Illinois?”

His last search inquiring how long it would take to die after cutting a jugular vein was about 7:20 a.m. that Monday. Clesen said he then called 911 reporting his attempted suicide and alleged murder about an our and a half later.

Trial to begin for man accused of murdering wife found dead in basement under a pile of wood and a gas can nearby

Trial to begin for man accused of murdering wife found dead in basement under a pile of wood and a gas can nearby

A McHenry County judge on Monday will hear the case of a man accused of fatally stabbing his wife while facing pending domestic battery charges from just months prior.

Anthony Harrison, 33, is set for a bench trial to begin Monday afternoon before Judge James Cowlin in the murder of his wife Laura Harrison. Harrison chose to have his case heard by a judge rather than a jury of his peers.

Authorities said Harrison fatally stabbed his 30-year-old wife in the neck on June 4, 2016.

Two days later he called 911 saying he had stabbed himself in the neck “multiple times.” He also told 911 dispatch that he had killed his wife two days prior, according to authorities and court documents.

Police found his wife’s body in the basement of their home near a pool of blood with wood piled up on top of her remains and a gas can nearby.

At a pre-trial hearing Friday Cowlin allowed prosecutors motion to enter at trial photos and receipts from local stores showing on June 5, 2016 – the day after allegedly killing his wife – Harrison bought several items, presumably to cover up the murder and dispose of her body.

Those items include a 31-gallon garbage can, 5-gallon gas can, bleach, Clorox wipes, wood, fire starter and $400 in gift cards, said Assistant States Attorney Scott Jacobson.

Prosecutors said that on Dec. 26, 2015, seven months prior to the alleged murder, Harrison committed the act of criminal misdemeanor domestic battery against his wife. They said he choked and scratched her on and near her neck, in the same areas in which he ultimately stabbed and killed her.

At the time of her death that domestic battery case was still pending. Prosecutors argued Friday that the intention behind killing his wife was “in part” to “silence” her so she could not testify him in that pending case.

Prosecutors cited the case of former Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson. Peterson was convicted in the 2004 murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio. He still is suspected in the presumed death of his fourth wife Stacey Peterson who has not been seen since 2007.

In the Savio case a judge allowed statements Savio made regarding their pending divorce and child support hearings. Prosecutors alleged that this could have been the reason behind killing her. Peterson was ultimately convicted in this case and sentenced to 38 years in prison. He. Has never been tried for the disappearance of Stacey Peterson.

But Harrison’s attorney Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer said there is no evidence of such intent.

“The state offered no evidence he tried to silence Mrs. Harrison,” Messer said. “Mr. Harrison did not face jail (in the domestic battery case). There was an offer already made. He was not trying to keep her from testifying. This murder case has nothing to do with prior domestic battery.”

On Monday morning before the trial began Cowlin ruled against allowing statements Laura Harrison made to police during the domestic battery case. He said Harrison may have killed his wife for any number of reasons but, unlike the Peterson case, there were no statements made to anyone saying he had threatened her in anyway prior to the murder.

Cowlin also allowed the prosecution to enter written text messages Laura Harrison had sent to her sister on the day she was allegedly killed saying she wanted her husband to leave the home sooner rather than later as was a prior agreement between the couple. The judge also allowed evidence that the words “I did this” were written in marker on a ledge inside the home and that Harrison wrote a letter to his grandma supposedly admitting to killing his wife. He also will consider the 911 call that Anthony Harrison made on June 6, 2016 and computer searches he made.

Laura Harrison was one of a set of triplets and a half sister to another set of triplets.

Attorneys said they expect a large gathering at Monday’s trial including Laura Harrison’s father who is flying in from

For more background visit:
China.http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-husband-charged-with-killing-wife-laura-harrison-met-20160624-story.html

Man who killed wife’s sex customer was just protecting her from a “400-pound knuckle dragger,” defense claims – judge to rule Aug. 30

Timothy Smith was protecting his wife from a “400-pound goon” when he accidentally shot and killed the man who came to have sex with her for money, his defense attorney said in a McHenry County courtroom this week.

But prosecutors rebutted that it was no accident and Smith is a liar who has rewritten history of the facts of the night. They said he is, in fact, guilty of first-degree murder and deserves to be resentenced to 50 years in prison.

Smith, 34, whose first conviction in 2013 was reversed on appeal, is again standing trial for the murder of Kurt Milliman. Authorities said he and his then pregnant wife, Kimberly Smith, had for about six months been posting ads on Craigslist offering sex for money with her.

On May 28, 2011 Milliman, 48, responded to one of those ads after exchanging messages with the Smiths arranging the meeting. Believing Timothy Smith was not at the home, Milliman arrived just after 11 p.m..

As Timothy Smith hid in a separate room, as he said he typically did when customers came to meet his wife, Kimberly Smith led Milliman to a back bedroom. The sex act started but soon Kimberly Smith decided she did not want to complete the act and showed the Spring Grove man to the door.

This is where things turned violent.

Milliman grabbed the woman and slapped her, she yelled out “Baby help me.” Timothy Smith quickly emerged from the room, ran out into the hallway with a loaded handgun and shot hm.

In closing arguments Matthew Haiduk said his client should be found guilty of lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter or second degree murder.

Haiduk said Smith was scared and protecting his wife from a “400-pound knuckle dragger” who was violent, had her “pinned against the wall … intent on having his way with her.”

“Kurt Milliman is twice the size of Tim Smith … he is bigger than most NFL players. He wore an XXXX L (shirt) … This is not a normal dude,” Haiduk said to Judge Sharon Prather who will announce her decision on the case Aug. 30. “This is a monster manhandling his wife because he didn’t get to have sex with her. … He had bad intentions. He was gonna get what he wants to get.”

Haiduk also said Milliman was shot from inches away as Tim Smith tried with his other hand to grab Milliman off of his wife. From the stand Wednesday Smith said the shooting was an accident.

Tim Smith and his wife also made a false report to 911 frantically saying there was an intruder in their home. The prosecution took issue with this saying that this false report showed “consciousness of guilty.”

Prosecutors also argued that rather than rush Milliman to the hospital which was less than a mile away Smith made attempts to cover up the crime and hide the computer on which the illicit arrangements were made. They said his emotions on the 911 call were fake.

To this Haiduk said though his words may have been a lie, Smith did not “manufacture emotion.”

“He’s scared to death,” Haiduk said. “This is a tragedy for everybody involved. Tim Smith did not intend to kill Kurt Milliman.”

But Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud rebutted Haiduk’s arguments saying the state did prove that this is first-degree murder. Zalud said all the state needs to prove is that Smith pulled the trigger knowing it would cause great bodily harm. He noted expert testimony that the gun was not shot by accident because it would have taken 12 pounds of pressure to shoot it, according to Julie Steele from the Illinois State Police. Prosecutors also cited expert testimony that Milliman was shot from about two feet away, not inches as the defense claimed.

Zalud poked holes in Smith’s statement that he was scared for his wife in that moment of shooting Milliman, when earlier in the evening he wasn’t scared to let him go to a back bedroom with her for sex.

“This idea the gun just went off doesn’t make sense,” Zalud said. “He shot him right in the back .. He shot an unarmed man who he invited into his house … staged a break in scene … made a false 911 call …” and continued to lie during a six hour police interview.

“If he felt justified in shooting him he would have come clean right away,” Zalud said. “Tim Smith is a dangerous revisionist historian and he’s a murderer. … Kurt Milliman didn’t have a gun, knife, never knew Tim Smith was there … (Smith) overreacted. He ran around the corner and shot him in the back. Killed him without any thought. … Tim Smith is not the victim here.”

Smith was convicted by a jury in 2013 but his conviction was overturned on appeal because Prather, who also oversaw that trial, failed to instruct the jury they could consider the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Timothy Smith started off the week going through jury selection but suddenly changed his mind and opted for bench trial. The Smiths have since divorced.

For more trial coverage visit:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/ct-met-prostitution-customer-murder-trial-continues-20180801-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/ct-met-prostitution-customer-murder-trial-continues-20180801-story.html

Convicted child sex offender sentenced to 26 years IDOC

A 58-year-old Algonquin man admitted to sexually assaulting and abusing three little girls under the age of 12 and was sentenced to 26 years in prison last week.

Richard Lampp, who was set to go before a jury on the two different cases which occurred in 2014 and 2016, pleaded guilty to two counts ofpredatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13 involving one of the girls. In a separate case involving two other children he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

For his guilty pleas additional charges were dismissed. Had he been convicted at trialon the most serious charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13 he faced 120 years in prison.

Lampp was arrested in 2016 and will receive credit for time served. The predatory chargesmust be served at 85 percent and the abuse charges served at 50 percent, bringing total time to be served to 20.7 years, McHenry County Judge James Cowlin explained. He also will be a registered sex offender, be on mandatory supervised release for three years or for life, and could be committed indefinitely to the department of human services as a sexually violent offender.

Earlier this year authorities charged hm with child pornography involving one of the victims, but those charges were dismissed Friday.

Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein read a letter to the judge written by the mother of two of the victims in which she called Lampp a “monster.”

“You are not human,” the mother wrote.

Concluding the hearing, Cowlin told the woman present in the courtroom that her children “are courageous and strong” and he wished them well.

Man who videotaped young girl in Target dressing room jailed

A man convicted of video taping a young girl at a McHenry department store in 2014 admitted Thursday he violated his yearlong probation and was re-sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Daniel J. Strentz, 33, of Des Plaines, entered a negotiated plea of guilty on July 13, 2016 to an amended charge of misdemeanor unauthorized video recording. He was originally charged with felony unauthorized video recording and live video transmission.

For that original charge he also was sentenced to 180 days, but received credit for time served at the required day-for-day and a portion was stayed pending compliance with probation, according to court records and prosecutors.

Strentz, who lived in Richmond at the time of his arrest, was accused of putting a recording device inside a changing room at the Target store in McHenry. At the time the room was occupied by a 14-year-old girl, according to the criminal complaint filed in the McHenry County courthouse.

In court on Thursday Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Ann Scholl said Strentz violated his probation last summer when he committed the offense of disorderly conduct in Streamwood. He was found guilty earlier this year of a class c disorderly conduct after a trial in Cook County, Scholl said.

According to Wisconsin Circuit Court website, in 2015 Strentz pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal “invade privacy/use surveillance device.” In this case he was accused of illegally video taping two people in a dressing room at Target in Lake Geneva, according to the website.