ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – As the sentencing hearing for Cathleen Koch was to get under way Thursday, the bailiff, spotting a young child, took a second to ask those watching him to take him out of the courtroom, where young children aren’t allowed.
Eventually, that child would be mentioned in testimony from the defense and prosecution in the case against Koch, who has pleaded guilty to 13 counts associated with an attack on her then-1-year-old daughter by her then-boyfriend, James C. Cooper, at a St. Charles motel. The child in the courtroom? A 10-month-old boy born to Koch.
Koch, 30, could be sentenced to as many as 14 years on the most serious charge, aggravated domestic battery. She could receive probation. Cooper agreed to a sentence of 15 years after pleading guilty to one county of aggravated battery to a child, a Class X felony. Koch did not participate in the beating, but she was accused of not stopping the attack.
All prosecution witnesses and two defense witnesses were heard Thursday. The hearing will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Both sides Thursday brought up the 10-month-old. Defense testimony from Koch’s mother, Carrie Johnson, suggested Koch was doing well with her son, and they were living with Johnson and her husband, Steven. Another adult must supervise Koch when she is with her son, and Koch has not seen her daughter, Molly, now nearly 4 years old, since a month after the attack, which was Oct. 27, 2010.
“Cathleen is wonderful with her son,” Carrie Johnson said. “She does all kinds of things with him.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Cullen, however, painted a different picture. He established Carrie Johnson does not know the identity of the father of the 10-month-old boy, and Cullen’s last question to Steven Johnson during his testimony suggested the timing of the child was questionable.
“So while she was facing charges of aggravated battery to a child, your [step]daughter had another child, is that correct?” Cullen asked.
Steven Johnson said it was so.
Testimony also shed light on the status of Molly, who is in the custody of her father, David Koch. Molly suffered severe injuries in the beating, in which Cooper was convicted of punching her 10 times and slamming her face first into a bed.
Dr. Eva Alessia, who works in Oswego with the Rush-Copley Medical Group, said she has seen Molly three times. Alessia said Molly is recovering, but she is far below the 4-year-old level in her skills. As far as an overall long-term prognosis for Molly, Alessia said she believed Molly “would be unable to live independently.”
On cross-examination, defense attorney Liz Lovig asked whether Molly ever could hold a job in the future, “like at McDonald’s or Burger King.”
“Maybe at Walmart or Meijer as a greeter,” Alessia said. “At this point, I don’t think she could do much more than that.”
There also was testimony from David Koch, who said Molly has been attending preschool, can play on her own and eat finger foods.