Wauconda woman gets 10 years in McHenry drug death

  • Amanda Coots

    Amanda Coots

Posted5/26/2010 12:01 AM

Before receiving her sentence for letting a friend overdose on heroin in a McHenry motel room last year, Amanda Coots expressed remorse for her actions and vowed to get clean.

"Life is way too short to throw it away on drugs," said the 27-year-old Wauconda woman, convicted in April of supplying the heroin that killed 38-year-old Rustin Cawthon. "I promise ... that I will never be present when someone decides to ruin their life by doing drugs."


McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather sentenced Coots, of the 300 block of Crestview Drive, to 10 years in prison and three years' mandatory supervised release. She will have to serve 75 percent of that sentence. Including credit for time served, Coots will be behind bars for another 6½ years.

In handing down the sentence, Prather split the difference between prosecutors' request for 14 years and the defense's request for 6 ­­- the minimum sentence allowed.

In a statement read to the court before the sentence, Cawthon's family underlined the impact his death has had on those closest to him - particularly his mother and two children.

"His mother is so heartbroken ... she still cries almost every day," Cawthon's brother, Dustin, said. "Rusty's children will grow up without their father, a void that's impossible to fill."

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In arguing for 14 years, McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Phil Hiscock said Coots could have saved Cawthon's life but instead did nothing.

"She could have picked up a phone and dialed 911," Hiscock said. "Instead, she chose to pick up the phone and call a cab."

But Coots' attorney, Colin MacMeekin, argued that Cawthon's death, though tragic, resulted from his own actions and that Coots' behavior was a product of her drug addiction.

"She merely acted as heroin addicts do," MacMeekin said. "The fact that a death resulted is a tragedy ... but it could have as easily been her as Rusty who died."