DIXON – They were a couple who used heroin together, and she would shoot him up because he didn't like to do it himself.
On Sept. 20, 2013, though, her actions lead to the fatal overdose of 51-year-old Jeffrey S. Scheuerman, whom she found face up, cold and unresponsive, on the floor of their Dixon home.
For that, Linda J. Hoggard, 60, of Dixon, will serve 3 years' probation, according to a plea agreement arrived at just before her bench trial was to begin Tuesday morning in Lee County Court.
In addition, Judge Ronald Jacobson gave Hoggard 170 days credit for time served in Lee County Jail, awaiting Tuesday's outcome. She could have been sentenced to 3 to 7 years in prison.
A lesser count of involuntary manslaughter, which carried 2 to 5 years, was dismissed.
Hoggard, who found Scheuerman's body and who called 911, denied her involvement at first, and denied they were using drugs. An autopsy revealed otherwise.
As the investigation progressed, though, other witnesses, also drug users, were interviewed: Kari Stauffer, who was there the night Scheuerman died, Chad Bock, who investigators said sold the heroin to Hoggard and Scheuerman, and Joshua Burmeister, to whom, they said, Hoggard admitted injecting Scheuerman.
All three were considered key witnesses, and all three were dead within 18 months of Scheuerman's overdose: Burmeister, 31, of Sterling, died July 27, 2014 in a Rockford hospital. Bock, 33, of Dixon, died 7 months later, on Feb. 24, 2015, at KSB Hospital. Stauffer was dead a week later; she died March 3 at her Dixon home.
Further complicating things was the story Devon Lynne Hoggard, Linda's daughter, also a drug user and also there that day, was telling police. Her version, which she told several times, cleared her mother of wrongdoing.
In February, after being arrested on a drug court violation, she finally admitted that she saw her mother inject Scheuerman. Linda Hoggard was arrested March 20.
Devon Hoggard is on parole now, sentenced in March to a year for obstruction of justice for lying to investigators. She and her mother are estranged, and in fact, per the terms of Tuesday's plea agreement, can have no contact.
Linda Hoggard could not be charged with drug-induced homicide, which carries 6 to 30 years, because the 3-year statute of limitations had expired by the time of her arrest. Lee County State's Attorney Matt Klahn charged her instead with involuntary manslaughter of a family member, and involuntary manslaughter.
In July, her attorney, Paul Whitcombe of Dixon, lost a motion to have those charges dismissed, arguing unsuccessfully that Hoggard was being denied her right to due process because she could not confront the three. He believed Stauffer and Bock would say that they did not see Hoggard inject Scheuerman, Whitcombe said.
Paige Rockwood, 25, of Rockford, a Dixon native whom Klahn has called another key witness, had to be arrested to compel her appearance at Tuesday's trial, after blowing off Hoggard's previously scheduled Sept. 6 bench trial. The plea agreement, however, rendered her testimony unnecessary.
Because Rockwood was a no-show, Klahn agreed at the time to release Hoggard on her own recognizance; she had been in Lee County Jail on $100,000 bond since her arrest.
Before deciding to accept the terms of the plea agreement, Jacobson asked both sides whether there were any mitigating factors he should consider.
Assistant State's Attorney Charlie Boonstra noted Hoggard's extensive criminal history and drug use: She has convictions for obstructing justice, theft, forgery, obtaining a substance by fraud, possession of cocaine and possession of drug parphernalia dating back nearly 25 years in Lee and Ogle counties.
Whitcombe provided perhaps the most hopeful note in the day's proceedings: Hoggard is now clean.