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Leonard Attorney Wants Reduction

Sat, Sep 24, 2005

By ROB PHILLIPS, NORTHWEST HERALD - rphillips@nwherald.com

WOODSTOCK Katherine Leonard's 11-year prison sentence is excessive and should be lowered to probation, Leonard's attorney said in a motion filed Friday.

The 46-year-old Crystal Lake mother pleaded guilty to criminally neglecting her 15-year-old son, Seamus, who was born with cerebral palsy. Seamus was found dead in March 2004. Judge Joseph Condon sentenced Leonard to 11 years in prison earlier this month.

"I hope that maybe [Condon] has had time to think about it and will reconsider his sentence," said Henry Sugden, Leonard's attorney.

Sugden said he was prepared to appeal if Condon would not change his mind.

The sentence should be re-examined for many reasons, including a state change in sentencing guidelines for this offense, which Sugden said should have subjected her to a maximum five years in prison.

Sugden said the court also failed to consider many mitigating factors, including that Leonard did not "contemplate" that her conduct would cause Seamus harm; the prison sentence would cause an excessive hardship on Leonard's six other children; the circumstances are not likely to reoccur; and Leonard's criminal history that shows she is unlikely to commit another crime.

Prosecutors also should not have used large photographs of Seamus' condition during the sentencing hearing, Sugden said. The photos, which were projected on a large screen in the courtroom, showed the 23-pound boy covered in feces and bedsores that revealed bone and cartilage.

"The only purpose of the photographs was to inflame the passion of the court," Sugden said in his motion.

McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi said he was confident that Condon would stand by his sentence. Displaying the pictures in court only helped to explain Leonard's disregard for her son's life, Bianchi said.

"It was to communicate the deplorable conditions that he suffered through the last few months of his life," he said. "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Located in Crystal Lake, Illinois, the lawyers at Madsen, Sugden & Gottemoller, Attorneys at Law, represent clients in McHenry County, including the communities of: Crystal Lake, McHenry, Waukegan, Woodstock, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Cary, Elgin, Dundee, Barrington, Harvard, Marengo, and Johnsburg.

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