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posted: 10/25/2012 5:49 PM

Judge cuts sentence for mom in St. Charles hotel beating

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  • Cathleen Koch

    Cathleen Koch


A Kane County judge Thursday reduced the sentence of a woman who pleaded guilty for failing to protect her toddler daughter from an October 2010 beating at a St. Charles hotel that left her permanently brain damaged.

Cathleen Koch, 30, of Elgin, was sentenced to eight years in prison last month but had her sentenced reduced to four years by Judge Timothy Sheldon.

Koch pleaded guilty to felony aggravated domestic battery in exchange for having more serious charges, some of which that carried a 30-year prison term, dropped.

She was charged in early 2011 for covering for her then boyfriend, James Cooper, who pleaded guilty to severely beating Molly Koch, who will be 4 next month, at a St. Charles hotel.

Cooper was sentenced to 15 years in prison as part of a plea deal.

Koch's defense attorney, Liz Lovig, submitted a three-page motion to Sheldon earlier this month, asking that Koch's sentence be reduced to four years or thrown out entirely and that Koch be issued probation.

Lovig argued that at the September sentencing, Sheldon only considered two of the many letters written in support of Koch, that mental health treatment would benefit Koch, and that Sheldon didn't consider the regret expressed by Koch when she addressed the court.

"I'm very pleased with Judge Sheldon's decision to reconsider his ruling. He says very rarely does he do that. He listened to the situation and the mitigation," Lovig said afterward. "(Koch) was crying during the hearing. I still think that she was hoping to get probation. but Molly's injuries are very severe."

At last month's hearing, medical experts testified that Molly, who was in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services but now lives with her father, needs constant care and suffered irreversible brain damage.

In the days and weeks after Molly's beating, Koch refused to cooperate with police and told them several different stories about what happened at the hotel, where the trio were staying.

Assistant State's Attorney Joe Cullen, the lead prosecutor in the case, argued that the sentence was appropriate.

Contacted after the hearing, Cullen deferred questions to Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon, who declined to comment.

The state cannot appeal Sheldon's decision, prosecutors said.

Koch could have received a top sentence of 14 years in prison. She must serve 85 percent of the new sentence, which is about three years and five months behind bars.

Defense attorneys routinely file motions for a judge to reconsider a defendant's sentence. Usually, they are denied with little or no deliberation.

In August, Kane County Judge Allen Anderson took a year off a seven-year sentence for an Aurora woman who pleaded guilty to having marijuana in her system when she triggered a May 2009 crash that killed two St. Charles motorcyclists and injured 12 others.

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