MOUNT CARROLL – If all goes as planned, the Rock Falls man whose attack caused the death of a Sterling-based DCFS worker will be sentenced Wednesday to 21 years without parole, her husband said.
Andrew "A.J." Sucher, 26, is expected to sign a plea agreement at an afternoon hearing in Carroll County Court, Don Knight said Tuesday evening.
Sucher attacked his wife, Pamela Sue Knight, 59, at his parents' house in Milledgeville on Sept. 29, 2017; she was there to take a 2-year-old child into protective custody.
He kicked the Dixon woman in the head, fracturing her skull and causing severe brain damage; she was comatose for about 2 months after the beating and died about 5 months later, on Feb. 8, 2018, of "complications of blunt force head injuries due to assault," the Cook County medical examiner's office said.
Sucher is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, as well as aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery of a state employee, and faces at least 20 to 60 years, up to life in prison, if convicted of murder, and 2 to 5 years each on the other charges.
One of the factors affecting the decision to make a deal: When the longtime Illinois Department of Children and Family Services worker was attacked, she fell to the ground and hit her head on a concrete sidewalk, her husband said.
State's Attorney Scott Brinkmeier told him that because the medical examiner will not be able to testify with certainty that Sucher's kicks, and not the fall to the sidewalk, caused her fatal injuries, the concern was that he might be convicted of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter – punishable by only 2 to 5 years, a disappointed Knight said.
Brinkmeier also told him that even if Sucher is convicted at trial, the case could be tied up for years with appeals, Knight said.
This way, he serves 21 years, with credit for the 2 years or so he's already served in the jail. That means Sucher, who turns 27 on Aug. 19, will be around 48 when he is released.
"I have to accept it, because if we go to trial and it goes the other direction, it's 2 to 5, and I really don't want that. I really don't have an option."
Knight and his daughter, Jennifer Hollenbeck, plan to give witness impact statements before the sentencing, he said.
Brinkmeier could not be reached for comment or confirmation after hours, nor could Sucher's attorney, Carroll County Public Defender David J. Brown.
Sucher, who is scheduled to be tried Aug. 19, could change his mind at any time before the agreement is signed; Judge John "Jerry" Kane also could choose to reject it.
Also as part of the agreement, two other felony cases against Sucher will be dismissed, Knight said.
He is charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer, which carries 3 to 7 years, because, as he was being moved to another cell in the Carroll County Jail on Dec. 19, 2017, he became "verbally combative" and punched Chief Deputy Craig Dimmick in the face, officials said
He was charged with aggravated battery in a public place, punishable by 2 to 5 years, on June 12. According to officials, video surveillance shows Sucher attacking fellow inmate Dorie L. Thomas, 34, of Savanna the day before.
Sucher also is charged in Whiteside County Court with aggravated battery of a child, which also carries 2 to 5 years, and battery, domestic battery, and interfering with the reporting of a domestic battery, all misdemeanors.
In that case, he is accused of dragging a 6-year-old by the foot and striking him in the face with a squirt gun, and of throwing a woman against a wall and taking her phone in a July 29, 2017, incident. He was out on bond on those charges when he attacked Knight.
The Whiteside County case is on hold while the Carroll County cases proceed.