An Evanston woman was sentenced to 18 months of periodic imprisonment and 30 months of intensive probation for selling heroin to a group of teens that resulted in the overdose death of a Vernon Hills girl in 2011.
Michelle Lee, now 21, will be released from the Lake County jail only for treatment and probation obligations during her 18-month sentence, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Jim Newman said Tuesday.
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Lee was also sentenced by Judge Mark Levitt to 200 hours of public service, Newman said. Levitt continued the hearing until Aug. 27 to determine whether Lee also should have to repay the victim's family for the funeral expenses.
At the request of prosecutors and because of the ages involved in the case, the Daily Herald is not identifying the 15-year-old victim or her family.
Newman said he initially asked for a prison sentence from Levitt because Lee sold "a deadly drug to a high school student," then did "everything she could to cover it up." However, Newman also told Levitt that periodic imprisonment was deserved if the judge felt a prison sentence wasn't appropriate,
At the sentencing, the victim's mother said her family has suffered serious hardship since her daughter's death.
"They say the greatest pain on Earth is the loss of a child," the mother said. "We now know this to be true."
Lee, of the 400 block of Howard Street, was convicted in May of unlawful sale of a controlled substance for selling less than one gram of heroin to three girls, including the victim.
Newman said the Vernon Hills High School students drove to Lee's Gurnee apartment Oct. 6, 2011, but the victim stayed in the car while two others went to Lee's door to buy the drug.
One girl 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.
Minutes after taking the heroin, the victim began to show signs of overdosing, Newman said. Paramedics resuscitated her using a medication that reverses the effects of heroin, Newman said, and she was taken to an area hospital where she was treated and released.
She had a "rebound overdose" and died when the medication wore off after she fell asleep at home that night, 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.
Defense attorney Lawrence Sommers pushed for probation in order to get Lee away from drugs. Sandy Lee testified that her daughter had been turning in good grades at college before being sent to jail in May, and has been doing well in rehabilitation.
Michelle Lee could have been sentenced up to seven years in prison.