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Elmhurst Mom's Botched Murder-Suicide Nets 20-Year Sentence

It would an unimaginable crime if it didn't happen so often nowadays. A mom, Cheryl Luchetta, 42, of Elmhurst, allegedly tried to murder her son before trying to kill herself. Fortunately, she failed in both regards, reports the Chicago Tribune. Luchetta drugged her son with a buffet of prescription and over-the-counter pills, and then tried to slit her own throat. But she didn't cut deep enough, and when she awoke hours later, called 911.

Luchetta's initial cover story was that an intruder cut her throat and drugged her child. Obviously, the cops didn't buy it. Luchetta eventually confessed to everything, and earlier this summer, she pleaded guilty to aggravated battery on a child in order to avoid an attempted murder charge.

We are not sure what Cheryl Luchetta was hoping for by taking the plea, but she'll spend at least 85 percent of the next 20 years in prison for the attempted murder. A lot of factors are considered in sentencing hearings. The prosecutor pushed for a near-maximum sentence of 25 years because Luchetta is "depraved and dangerous." The maximum is 30.

On the other hand, the defense, not having much of a leg to stand on, highlighted the trauma in Luchetta's life, including the loss of her parents shortly before the botched murder, her pending divorce and custody battle, and her struggles with depression.

The judge showed mercy, but not much. He noted that the presentence report -- which highlights a defendant's background, substance abuse issues, mental illness, criminal record, support system, and any other relevant factors allowable by law -- indicated that Luchetta suffered from mental health issues and had "not had an easy road." But the judge's sympathy was limited by the fact that Luchetta wasted time and further endangered her son's life by lying to investigators. She also showed no urgency in her 911 call.

In the end, the judge has to weigh the presentencing report, any applicable sentencing guidelines, truth-in-sentencing laws (which require certain offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentence), and the nature and severity of the crime in determining an appropriate sentence. Even with good behavior, Cheryl Luchetta will still serve a minimum sentence of slightly more than 17 years for her crime. Her son, meanwhile, has fully recovered and is "better than ever," according to his father.

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