Elmhurst mom gets 20 years for drugging son
An Elmhurst mother who gave her 7-year-old son a potentially lethal combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs last year during a bitter divorce from the boy's father has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Cheryl Luchetta said in court on Monday that she is "deeply sorry" and remorseful for giving her son various amounts of Tylenol PM, Valium and diazepam on the night of June 8, 2011. "If I could change anything, I would," the 42-year-old woman said through tears.
But before handing out the sentence, DuPage County Judge Daniel Guerin highlighted the series of false statements Luchetta made when she finally called 911.
After drugging her son, Luchetta cut her own throat and passed out, authorities said. When police responded to her Elmhurst condominium about 5 a.m. on June 9, they found the boy unresponsive and Luchetta covered in blood.
Initially, Luchetta said that an armed intruder had ransacked her home, injured her, and drugged her child. She eventually confessed, saying she couldn't bear to lose custody of her son.
"When time was of the essence, she wasted precious seconds with lies to the 911 operator and officers," said Guerin, adding that there was "no urgency" in Luchetta's voice during the 911 call.
Elmhurst police officer Dan Corrigan testified during Monday's hearing that Luchetta told him that she wanted to kill herself but didn't want her estranged husband to get custody of their son. The couple were going though a divorce at the time.
So Luchetta "poisoned" the child in an attempt to kill him and "get back at the father," Assistant State's Attorney Demetri Demopoulos said.
"She brought him to death's door and dropped him off," said Demopoulos, who requested a 25-year prison sentence for Luchetta.
Luchetta's attorney, Frank Valenti, asked the judge to sentence his client to eight years. Valenti said Luchetta has a history of mental illness but wasn't taking her medication when she tried to kill herself and the boy.
"This is the worst thing a parent can do," Valenti said. "She realizes that now."
Nevertheless, Guerin said, Luchetta betrayed the child's trust by doing what she did. "She's incapable of being a caring and nurturing mother," the judge said.
The victim, now 8, was hospitalized for several days. He was diagnosed with acetaminophen intoxication and dehydration, and initially was unable to walk, officials said.
Luchetta pleaded guilty in June to aggravated battery to a child in return for prosecutors dismissing attempted murder charges. According to court records, Luchetta's divorce was finalized in February with her ex-husband receiving custody of their son.
Prosecutors said Luchetta must serve 85 percent of her sentence before being eligible for parole. She will be required to register as a violent offender against youth for 10 years upon her release from prison.
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