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Heroin-induced death nets 8-year sentence

Cody A. Searles

Cody A. Searles

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Updated: November 18, 2012 6:48AM

Sharing two $15 bags full of heroin with friends wound up costing a Lake Zurich man eight years in prison.

Cody Searles, 22, was before Lake County Circuit Judge John Phillips for sentencing Tuesday. Searles had previously pleaded guilty to attempted drug-inducted homicide.

On Aug. 5, 2011, Searles gave heroin to both his girlfriend and Cristian Medina at his Lake Zurich residence. Searles’ girlfriend survived. Medina did not.

“The court does note that your conduct in this case threatened harm to the decedent who you characterize as your best friend ... it was your heroin he utilized,” Phillips said.

Phillips sentenced Searles to eight years in Illinois Department of Corrections followed by two years of parole.

Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen DeRue asked Phillips to impose a 12-year prison sentence. Searles has a criminal history.

He committed curfew violations and alcohol consumption by a minor. He also took a plea deal on an aggravated battery charge against a police officer from an incident in 2010. Searles pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and never wrote his court-ordered apology letter, failed to complete any of the 250 hours of public service and did not pay a dime in court costs, DeRue said.

“He has shown no remorse for anything he did. He will say anything to anyone to get what he wants,” DeRue said.

Searles’ drug use started at age 12 when his father left, his mother Joan Searles testified. Searles did not successfully complete substance abuse treatment on eight separate occasions, DeRue said.

Police were called the evening of Aug. 5, 2011, when Searles’ girlfriend, whose name is not being released by The News-Sun to protect her identity, passed out and stopped breathing. Two friends had just picked her up from Searles’ residence in the 100 block of Pleasant Road, Lake Zurich, when she became unresponsive, according to testimony Tuesday from Lake Zurich police officers William West and Randall Wytt.

Once police learned where she came from, they showed up at Searles’ door. He refused them admission into the house and claimed Medina was sleeping inside the house, they testified. Police got permission to enter from Searles’ mother and found a burned spoon, needles, tinfoil packages and baggies near Medina. Medina was unresponsive, Wytt testified. The spoon testified positive for heroin.

Searles was taken into custody and eventually confessed to injecting his girlfriend with heroin and giving Medina some, officers testified.

Searles told his girlfriend not to go to court if she was served with a subpoena, to tell officials that Searles did not give her the heroin and to lie to police saying that another witness to the incident was high, according to recorded phone calls made from Searles to his girlfriend while he was in jail last year. Searles was court-ordered not to have contact with his girlfriend, yet he was recorded having these conversations, DeRue said. Snippets of the phone conversations were played at the sentencing hearing.

However, Searles has completed his GED and started Bible studies while in Lake County Jail, defense attorney Robin DeMars Goodstein said. She asked the judge to sentence Searles to conditional discharge and intensive probation. Searles wants to be a chef or a drug counselor when he is released from custody, she said.

Searles said he was “truly sorry” for Medina’s death.

“I do have deep remorse ... I am also used to hiding my emotions ... I now see how truly selfish and lost I was. I realize with the path I was taking, going to jail was honestly the best thing for me. Being here has given me discipline and self control ... give me the chance to prove I’m trying to be a better person,” Searles said.

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