Prosecutor says Wauconda woman facilitated friend's overdose death
Amanda K. Coots was the "facilitator" of a friend's heroin-related death in a McHenry motel room last year, a prosecutor told a McHenry County jury Tuesday as the 27-year-old Wauconda woman's trial on a charge of drug-induced homicide got underway.
Coots, of the 300 block of Crestview Drive, faces allegations she provided heroin to Rustin A. Cawthon shortly before his fatal overdose. Cleaning staff at a Super 8 motel found Cawthon, 38, of McHenry, dead the morning of June 7 inside a room rented by Coots.
Prosecutor Philip Hiscock told jurors his death followed two days of drug use with Coots, and that Wauconda bought the heroin using money given her by Cawthon.
"She facilitated him getting that heroin and she supplied the heroin to Rustin," Hiscock said. "Rustin was the money man and the defendant was the facilitator."
The night of June 6, Hiscock said, Cawthon twice injected himself with heroin given to him by Coots, using her needle. He collapsed unconscious into a chair a short time later and began making gurgling noises while struggling to breathe.
"(Coots) doesn't call 911," Hiscock said. "She calls a taxi and leaves."
Coots attorney Colin MacMeekin called the case a tragedy, but one for which his client should not be held legally responsible. He said evidence would contradict the prosecutor's account of what happened at the motel and indicate it was Cawthon who pressed Coots to get him heroin.
"He supplied the money for it," MacMeekin said. "It was his idea."
MacMeekin said he also planned to call Cawthon's McHenry County probation officer to testify that about six weeks before the overdose he made suicidal comments and indicated he had previously tried to kill himself by a heroin overdose.
After opening statements jurors heard testimony from several witnesses, including Cawthon's father who identified his son as the deceased, a pathologist who performed the McHenry man's autopsy and a taxi driver who transported Coots and Cawthon to and from the motel June 6.
Prosecutors are expected to rest their case Wednesday morning after showing the jury a videotaped statement Coots gave police admitting she handed Cawthon heroin the night he overdosed.
If found guilty, Coots would face between six and 30 years in prison.