A DuPage County jury deliberated for nearly four hours Monday night before finding a Summit woman guilty of supplying her friend with a fatal dose of heroin in 2012 in Wheaton.
Jennifer Nere, 34, is just the second person to be charged with, tried and convicted on drug-induced homicide charges in DuPage County. Nere was also convicted of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. She faces six to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced.
Prosecutors say Nere brought heroin to her friend, 32-year-old Wheaton resident Augustina Taylor, during the late-night hours of June 27, 2012, less than a day after Taylor was released from prison, following a family party celebrating her release.
In the early morning hours of June 28, 2012, Taylor overdosed and died from a mixture of cocaine and heroin.
Family members, including Taylor's now 17-year-old son, testified she "looked good" after being clean during her incarceration and said she was socializing throughout the night, until Nere arrived.
"(Taylor) was alive all these hours, then an hour after (Nere) shows up, she's dead," said Assistant State's Attorney Jae Kwon during Monday's closing arguments. "(Taylor) wanted drugs. (Nere) gave her drugs. And (Taylor) is now dead as a result."
During the three-day trial prosecutors played a nearly hourlong video of Nere's first interview at the Wheaton Police Department on June 29, 2012, with officer Dan Salzmann. Salzmann also read a written statement Nere wrote after the interview.
Throughout the trial, defense attorney David Gaughan called the video a "quote unquote confession" because he maintained Nere had done cocaine earlier in the day of the interview and might have still been under the influence.
In both the video and letter, Nere admitted to bringing Taylor the "rock and blow" in an old sock Salzmann said Nere had previously used to wipe blood from one of her track marks.
Inside the sock, prosecutors said, were two tin bindles of heroin, a crack pipe, a syringe and a small bag believed to have contained the crack cocaine.
Prosecutors say after receiving the drugs around midnight, Taylor rushed back up to the apartment, headed straight to the washroom and turned on the shower. Police found her dead a short time later after breaking down the locked door.
Nere was taken into custody in DuPage County in September 2013 after being released from Cook County jail, where she had been held since Aug. 24, 2013, on unrelated charges.
Gaughan, in his closing arguments, called Nere's prosecution politically motivated so law enforcement can "get the headlines."
"They want to say we're going after (the heroin)," Gaughan said. "So they go after the addict instead of the evil, rotten, scum of the earth dealer?"
Nere's next scheduled court appearance is Sept. 4 in courtroom 4010 for filing of post trial motions and presentence reports.