Teen sent to juvenile prison for killing sister

  • Dora Betancourt

    Dora Betancourt

  • Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim on Tuesday discusses the case of a Mundelein girl sentenced to juvenile prison until her 21st birthday for killing her 11-year-old half-sister last year. On the left is Assistant State's Attorney Claudia Kasten.

      Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim on Tuesday discusses the case of a Mundelein girl sentenced to juvenile prison until her 21st birthday for killing her 11-year-old half-sister last year. On the left is Assistant State's Attorney Claudia Kasten. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/4/2015 2:52 PM

A 15-year-old Mundelein girl expressed gratitude for being sentenced to juvenile prison in the stabbing death of her younger sister in a bedroom of their home last year.

Lake County Circuit Judge Valerie Ceckowski said during a formal sentencing hearing Tuesday the teen will receive counseling and other help while she is committed to a juvenile prison until her 21st birthday.

 

Ceckowski had announced the same sentence last month after the girl entered a negotiated guilty plea on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of 11-year-old Dora Betancourt on Jan. 21, 2014.

In a statement to the court, the girl said she was grateful her case remained in the juvenile justice system so she'll get second chance when she turns 21. She said she misses her sister and has a goal of graduating college to become a nurse.

"I have had a lot of time to think about the wrong I've done and what I want to do with my life," said the teenager, who isn't being named by the Daily Herald because of her age and standing judicial instructions.

Defense attorneys said the teen has been supported by her family, church, former classmates and others since killing Dora.

"It's a very sad and disturbing and tragic circumstance (the girl) and her family have been involved in," defense lawyer Michael Conway said.

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Housed at the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Justice Center near Vernon Hills since her arrest when she was 14, the girl admitted killing Dora because she thought she was unappreciated. Prosecutors said the girls were home alone when the stabbing occurred in the morning.

Assistant State's Attorney Claudia Kasten read from the girl's written confession. In part, the girl told police "the devil took over" when she killed Dora, according to Kasten.

Prosecutors said the girl called 911 and reported there was an intruder in her house in the 1600 block of Woodhaven Court in Mundelein. They said the teenager later confessed to the stabbing on video.

Conway said the girl was under tremendous stress at home in caring for her younger sister, because their mother was raising them on her own and worked two jobs in an effort to send her daughters to a private high school.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He said the adult responsibilities for the girl, which started when she was about 12, included doing laundry, cooking, cleaning and helping Dora with homework.

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim had the right to charge the teen as an adult and transfer the case to felony adult court. He said the girl will be better able to receive extensive mental health treatment she needs in juvenile prison.

Nerheim spoke outside of court after the formal sentencing hearing.

"This was a very difficult case," he said. "This is a case where there's really no winner. There's no easy answer. And there's really no perfect decision. What you try to do is balance the interests of justice in looking at the obligation to protect the public, to do what is right for the victim in the case and also to ensure that the minor is treated fairly and gets the services that she needed."

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