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updated: 9/2/2012 5:34 PM

Different tack taken in heroin death appeal

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A 29-year-old Wauconda woman who successfully appealedher drug-induced homicide conviction earlier this year was awarded a new trial and had her 10-year sentence thrown out.

So what did Amanda Coots do?

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She pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Rustin A. Cawthon and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

The body of Cawthon, 36, of McHenry, was found by a cleaning lady on June, 7, 2009, at a McHenry hotel.

A successful appeal usually means a defendant will forge ahead with a new trial.

But defense attorney Colin MacMeekin said the appellate ruling didn't necessarily guarantee Coots would be acquitted in a new trial. So she pleaded guilty to a different felony and could be released from the Dwight Correctional Facility in about three months.

"It was a practical consideration," MacMeekin said.

During Coots' 2010 trial, prosecutors argued that Coots gave Cawthon a second bag of heroin after he complained he wasn't high from the first one; Cawthon shot up heroin using Coots' needle. When it appeared that he overdosed, Coots went home and did not call authorities for help, prosecutors argued.

Coots appealed her conviction for drug-induced homicide, arguing the jury had a question about whether her handing Cawthon the drugs was the same as delivering them and that she was denied a fair trial because her defense attorney didn't ask the judge to answer the jury's question.

"In my opinion, the law itself -- the drug-induced homicide statute -- is a bad law. That's my personal opinion. But it's been upheld by the lower courts," MacMeekin said.

Prison in Aurora sex case: A former Aurora man was sentenced to 18 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting a girl he knew.

Pablo Macias, 38, of 800 block of West Forest Street, West Chicago, and previously of the 300 block of North Avenue, Aurora, pleaded guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

Judge Marmarie J. Kostelny accepted the plea in which Macias admitted to having sex with the a girl between 2004 and 2007, beginning when she was 5 years old. The assaults took place at Macias' former Aurora home.

He also must register for life as a sex offender and serve 85 percent of the sentence.

"We are obligated for so many reasons to protect our children from harm. Acts such as these are violent, and they not only rob children of their innocence but they lead to permanent emotional scarring that inhibits children from becoming productive adults," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said in a statement.

"This victim deserves great credit for having the courage to tell her story and for believing that we would listen," he added. "Her willingness to speak out emboldens other victims and helps spread the message that such acts are intolerable, and that the ramifications to the predators are harsh."

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