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Lamie faces life in prison after murder conviction

PONTIAC — Heather Lamie faces life in prison after being found guilty of murder Tuesday in the 2011 death of her foster child, Kianna Rudesill.

The six-woman, six-man jury deliberated about six hours before returning the verdict. Lamie also was found guilty of endangering the life or health of a child, a charge that carries two to 10 years in prison.

"We're very disappointed," said Lamie's attorney John Coglan after the verdict. When asked if they would appeal, he said, "Yes, absolutely."

Livingston County State's Attorney Seth Uphoff said, "We think the jury reached the right verdict," but added, "There are no winners in a case like this." 

Lamie, 31, of Kankakee broke into tears after the verdict was read. She was handcuffed and led from the courtroom. Lamie was brought back in the courtroom while Livingston County Associate Judge Mark Fellheimer discussed a sentencing date. 

Coghlan asked that Lamie be freed until sentencing but the judge denied the request. The sentencing hearing is set for 10 a.m. Nov. 21.  

While the sentencing discussion was going on, Lamie became visibly ill and vomited numerous times in a trash can provided by court security. When she was escorted from the courtroom, her knees buckled and she had to be helped by security officers.

Her husband, Josh Lamie, also was sobbing and was unable to leave the courtroom without assistance from relatives.  

The verdict also brought tears from members of Kianna's family who had sat through the entire nine-day trial. 

"Kianna got justice," said her birth father, Jimmie Rudesill.

"There were no winners, but there was justice," added Evelyn Rudesill, Kianna's great-grandmother.

Kianna's grandmother, Wendy Palmer, thanked Uphoff and special prosecutor Scott Ripley "for giving Kianna a voice and for listening."

Kianna, 4, of Bloomington, died May 4, 2011, of blunt force trauma to the head.

Heather Lamie maintained Kianna often threw fits and banged her head against the wall or floor. She said Kianna had two tantrums on May 2, 2011, injuring her mouth and ear. No one else, including Joshua Lamie, had witnessed the fits or headbanging.

Heather Lamie called an ambulance about 12:45 p.m. May 3, 2011, saying her daughter was having "seizure-like" symptoms. Heather Lamie was the only adult at home at the time.

Three experts testified for the state about Kianna's condition after she was rushed to the Pontiac hospital and transferred to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria. Kianna had 33 bruises across her body and two severe head injuries that ultimately caused her death.

Uphoff said the evidence led the jury to its decision. "The way the case was laid out showed how the situation played out. Although the defense made the best case it could, it couldn't overcome the evidence," he said.

In closing arguments Uphoff maintained Heather Lamie reached her breaking point when Kianna spilled dog food all over on May 3, 2011, and "grabbed her (Kianna) and slammed her repeatedly into the wall.”

Uphoff said it was "important that all the state's experts were unanimous in belief that a 4-year-old of Kianna's size could not generate the force necessary to cause such severe injuries," but the clincher was defense expert Dr. William Puga, a psychiatrist, who had a physical reaction when shown the pictures of Kianna's injuries.

After seeing the photos, Puga, who treated Kianna during a weeklong stay at Streamwood Behavioral Health Systems, said he had not seen "this extensive of injuries" in kids who have a history of head banging. "This is very extensive," Puga said.


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