Schaumburg mom gets four years in prison for killing disabled daughter
A plea for mercy from a Schaumburg mom who admitted feeding her severely disabled daughter a fatal overdose of prescription drugs then attempting to take her own life did not sway a suburban judge.
Cook County Judge Joel Greenblatt on Wednesday sentenced Bonnie Liltz to four years in prison. Defense attorneys had sought and prosecutors recommended she receive four years of probation and no prison time.
Held upright by defense attorney William Beattie, Liltz, 56, sobbed upon hearing the sentence, while more than a dozen of her friends and family members sat in stunned silence.
Originally charged with first-degree murder, Liltz pleaded guilty last week to an amended charge of involuntary manslaughter in the 2015 death of her 28-year-old daughter, Courtney, who had cerebral palsy, could not walk or talk -- save for the word "mama" -- and required 24-hour care.
Rejecting prosecutors' recommendation, Greenblatt indicated his reluctance to "impose probation for a killing, involuntary or otherwise."
"Life is precious. Even a life that is disabled. Even a life that is profoundly disabled," he said. "Your daughter, Courtney Liltz, was innocent and vulnerable and fragile. Her life was fragile. All life is fragile."
Greenblatt rejected defense claims that the killing was an act of love.
"The choice you made was not an act of love. It was a crime," Greenblatt said before sheriff's deputies took Liltz into custody.
Because of Liltz's frail health, Greenblatt ordered her transferred to Cermak Hospital at the Cook County jail. She will likely be transferred to the state's Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln on Friday, said defense attorney Thomas Glasgow.
"Words cannot describe how devastated she is," Glasgow said. "I held her hand while she wept for 15 minutes."
Glasgow, who was "absolutely mystified by the sentence," said he will file a motion for Greenblatt to reconsider.
"We made a clear and convincing statement of her state of mind at the time," Glasgow said, referring testimony about the night of May 27, 2015, when she awoke in the bedroom she shared with Courtney, feeling ill and believing she was dying. .
Liltz suffered from physical ailments resulting from her treatment for ovarian cancer at age 19. Radiation therapy following her cancer surgery caused organ damage that subsequent surgeries could not repair, according to court records. In 2012, Liltz was again diagnosed with cancer, which required hospitalization and forced the single mom to place Courtney in a state facility for a week.
Liltz testified Courtney was left unattended, wet and dirty at the facility. She said she feared Courtney would suffer the same fate if Liltz died or was unable to care for her. She admitted feeding Courtney a lethal combination of prescription drugs, then taking some herself. A family member found them, but Courtney died about a week later without regaining consciousness.
Liltz adopted Courtney after her biological mother and her first adoptive parents surrendered her. Nine witnesses, including family members, friends and fellow parishioners, testified to Liltz's devotion to Courtney, who had a ready smile and a fondness for Ernie on "Sesame Street."
Glasgow summed up Liltz's love for her daughter during last week's hearing.
"Every aspect of her life was Courtney, from the moment she rose until the moment she went to bed," he said.