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updated: 5/21/2014 7:23 PM

Evanston woman guilty of selling fatal heroin dose to Vernon Hills teen

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  • Michelle Lee

    Michelle Lee


A Lake County jury has found an Evanston woman guilty of selling the heroin that led to the overdose death of a 15-year-old Vernon Hills High School girl in 2011.

Michelle Lee, now 21, had her bond immediately revoked by Lake County Judge Mark Levitt after the jury's verdict about 1:30 p.m. She faces up to 7 years in prison when she is due to be sentenced July 10.

Assistant State's Attorney Jim Newman declined to comment after the verdict was read. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes to reach its verdict.

Lee had no reaction to the verdict in court.

Lee, of the 400 block of Howard Street, was charged with the unlawful sale of a controlled substance for selling about $40 -- less and one gram -- of heroin to three teenage girls, including the victim.

Newman said the girls drove to Lee's Gurnee apartment Oct. 6, 2011, but the victim stayed in the car while two teens went to Lee's door to buy heroin.

One teen handed the money to Lee through the door and received a bag containing heroin, Newman said. The girls drove to a Libertyville park where they split up the drug and ingested it, he said.

"This defendant, Michelle Lee, sold poison to (the victim's friend) for 40 bucks," Newman told the jury during closing arguments Wednesday. "That particular poison was the controlled substance of heroin."

Minutes after taking the heroin, the victim began to show signs of overdosing, and the other teens called paramedics. The paramedics resuscitated her using a medication that reverses the effects of heroin, Newman said, and she was taken to an area hospital, treated, and released.

That medication wore off after the victim fell asleep at home overnight Oct. 7. She suffered what an expert said was a "rebound overdose" and died, Newman said.

Police determined the girls bought the heroin from Lee, Newman said, and she was charged in January 2012 with felony delivery of a controlled substance.

Newman said police also recovered evidence in the form of emails, text messages, phone calls, blood and urine samples.

Defense attorney Lawrence Sommers said in his closing argument that it was never proven what was purchased by the teens when they went to Lee's apartment.

"The state is asking you to assume; assume it was heroin, assume it was cocaine," he said. "But that's not good enough because this is a court of law."

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