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updated: 10/16/2012 8:07 PM

Lake Zurich man gets 8 years for teen's death

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  • Cody A. Searles

      Cody A. Searles

 
 

A 21-year-old Lake Zurich man will spend seven years in prison for killing his best friend by providing him tainted heroin.

Lake County Judge John Phillips sentenced Cody Searles to eight years in prison during Tuesday's hearing in Waukegan. Searles' sentence will be reduced by one year due to time served in the Lake County jail, where he has been since the August 2011 death of Christian Medina, 18, of Lake Zurich.

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Searles agreed to a plea deal that reduced the initial charge of two counts of drug-induced homicide to attempted drug-induced homicide, a class 1 felony. He could have been sentenced up to 14 years in prison.

Lake County State's Attorney Steven DeRue was seeking a 12-year sentence after painting Searles as a manipulative person who has shown no remorse for Medina's death.

"This is an individual who is a master manipulator who takes little to no remorse in the death of his best friend," DeRue told Phillips.

Searles was 19 when he bought $15 bags of heroin and gave it to Medina and an unidentified 17-year-old girl in August 2011. That heroin put all three in the hospital, authorities said, and killed Medina three days later.

Lake Zurich police officers who testified Tuesday said Searles delayed them by 25 minutes from entering the house while Medina was comatose in an bedroom.

Investigator Randall Witt said he discovered Medina unresponsive and bleeding from the mouth after Searles' mother, Joan, finally granted officers access to the home. He added Medina was not breathing, and he performed chest compressions until paramedics arrived.

Paramedics took Medina to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Lake Barrington where he died three days later.

After Medina died, Searles admitted to police that he purchased the heroin used by Medina, Searles, and his unidentified girlfriend. However, he said he never injected the fatal substance into Medina.

In order to paint Searles as unremorseful, DeRue played tapes of Searles phoning his girlfriend from jail in which he is clearly heard telling her to not answer the door for police, to not accept any subpoenas to testify against him, and to have his friends lie for him.

Phillips said those tapes helped support DeRue's argument that Searles felt no remorse in the death of his friend.

However, Searles said at the sentencing that drug use was a way of life for him, and he never thought something bad could happen from it.

"For us, using drugs was a normal thing," he said. "I now see how truly lost and selfish I was."

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