With family members sitting behind her in court and caring for her infant son, a Woodstock woman was sentenced to 14 years in prison for selling a lethal dose of drugs to a 20-year-old woman.
Durelle Hall, 26, was convicted in July by a McHenry County jury of drug-induced homicide for selling a lethal dose of heroin mixed with fentanyl to Chelsie Kumm.
Kumm died Oct. 6, 2015, of an overdose in the basement of her boyfriend’s mother’s home in Marengo, where Kumm had been staying.
Hall’s baby boy, who could be heard crying at times during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, was born days after her conviction. The son is one of two children she has.
Kumm’s mother, Kristine Hensley, wrote an impact statement read by Assistant State’s Attorney Rita Gara.
Hensley said Chelsie, the youngest of her four children, was her baby and is now “gone forever.”
“All her birthdays and holidays are just memories now,” she wrote.
She acknowledged her daughter “was sick” with a drug addiction but said “people like you have no regard for what you do.”
She wrote that Hall will never know just how many families she has destroyed by selling drugs.
“It has been two years now,” Hensley wrote. “I still struggle every day not to break down.”
Hall’s family members, in tears, took the stand and described her as loving and caring and said she had a painful childhood and was bullied in high school. They said she had mental health issues, cut herself in her teens and at 16 was raped by two men in Chicago, an assault from which she never recovered.
Her mother, Ellen Hall, told the court, “You only know one side of Durelle … one who made bad choices and (who is) in the court system.”
“She is very loving,” Ellen Hall said, adding that her daughter often stood up for others who were being bullied, sat with the kids with special needs in school and helped to care for her aging grandparents.
She said she is angry at the choices her daughter made. But she added that Durelle Hall has two children, a 7-year-old son and her newborn — whom she and her husband, Mike Hall, will care for — and said they need to know their mother.
“Please consider the impact a (long sentence) will have on her children and her family,” Ellen Hall said. “She is not evil or malicious. She is a good person.”
Before sentencing, Prather viewed a video taken of Hall’s 7-year-old son recorded with a child advocacy worker after Hall was arrested in June, while awaiting the drug-induced homicide trial and charged with possessing and selling drugs.
In the video her son says his mother had taken him with her when making drug deals and that he has seen the “weed” and knows the “white stuff” is kept in her bedroom and in kitchen drawers.
He told his interviewer that his mother had “made bad choices.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese argued that Hall is every parent’s “biggest fear.”
“She chose to make a living destroying people’s lives,” Freese said.
Freese noted that one of Hall’s relatives is a drug addict.
“(Hall) knows the horrors of heroin first-hand,” Freese said. “She relies on that. … She knows what she is doing and she keeps selling it. It is awful, unforgivable … disgusting.”
In asking for a 25-year prison term, Freese said: “To her, Chelsie was nothing more than a junkie and a quick buck.”
Defense attorney Dan Hofmann blamed Hall’s crimes on her untreated mental health issues and asked that she receive a light sentence so her children would have a chance to know her.
People with mental health issues “are not happy unless they are miserable and making more problems,” Hofmann said.
In announcing her sentence, Prather said she disagrees with those who say Hall is a “loving mother.”
“No loving mother would expose their children to that lifestyle,” the judge said, referring to Hall taking her son to make drug deals.
Noting Hall has been in and out of the courtroom over the last seven years, committed crimes while awaiting the drug induced homicide trial and still faces prosecution on three more cases, the judge said Hall continues to “thumb your nose” at the law, the court and her own family.