Mom of beaten toddler wants interviews disallowed

Updated 8/31/2011 6:46 PM
  • Cathleen Koch

    Cathleen Koch

  • James Cooper

    James Cooper

About 30 minutes into an interview at Central DuPage Hospital last fall, Cathleen Koch told police why she had several stories about how her 23-month-old daughter Molly really got hurt.

"I was very scared, and if he did this to her, I don't want him coming after me," Koch told a St. Charles police officer and another detective on an audio tape played in a Kane County courtroom Wednesday.

Koch's boyfriend, James C. Cooper, 28, of Elburn, is accused of severely beating the girl at a St. Charles hotel on Oct. 27, 2010.

If convicted of aggravated battery, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

But Koch, 29, of Plano, also faces an aggravated battery charges, as well as six counts each of obstructing justice and endangering the life of a child.

Prosecutors argue that Koch is just as responsible for the beating because she was the legal guardian of the Molly and covered up for Cooper. Koch also faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Defense attorney Liz Lovig wants Koch's statements to police thrown out of court. Lovig argues that her client was in a severely emotional state, kept against her will by St. Charles police, and yelled and sworn at during an interview.

About 35 minutes into an interview on Oct. 27, Detective Drew Lamela and Officer Joanne Pawlak asked Koch why she changed her story five times about what happened to the toddler.

Pawlak was called to the hotel that morning for a toddler that was not breathing; Molly was taken to Delnor Hospital in Geneva then moved to Central DuPage's trauma unit in Winfield.

Koch acknowledged she had been the victim of Cooper's physical abuse in the past, and it looked like he "beat the crap out of" Molly. Koch at first told police her daughter simply fell.

"(Cooper) walked out on you (before paramedics arrived in St. Charles)," Pawlak tells Koch on the tape. "This is what you're protecting. This is what you're not being 100 percent truthful for."

But Koch also insisted she was asleep, and didn't see nor hear anything.

"You have to have (expletive) heard it!" Lamela shouts at one point.

Lovig also argues that police didn't read Koch her Miranda rights until a Nov. 1 taped interview and that police made false promises that she would not be held responsible for the toddler's injuries.

"These promises by the police induced the defendant to make statements against her interest," Lovig wrote in a court motion.

Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon plans to finish listening to Koch's initial interview, which is more than 90 minutes long, on Thursday morning and attorneys from both sides are due in court next Tuesday to continue the hearing.

Prosecutors plan to play several more hours of Koch's police interviews; it is unclear whether the matter will wrap up next week and if Sheldon will rule then.

Meanwhile, Cooper is due in court Sept. 8.