PONTIAC — A sentencing hearing in the Heather Lamie murder case was continued Friday when her attorney requested more time to prepare post-trial motion arguments after receiving a response from the state on Thursday.
Lamie, 31, of Kankakee and formerly of Cullom, was convicted in October of murder and endangering the life or health of a child in the May 2011 death of her foster child, Kianna Rudesill, 4, of Bloomington. She faces life in prison.
But John Coghlan, Lamie's attorney, maintains in post-trial motions filed Dec. 9 that the state failed to prove her guilt. He asked the court for a new trial; an order acquitting her of the charges; or to find her not guilty of first-degree murder but guilty of second-degree murder.
While the state is not required to respond to post-trial motions, Livingston County State's Attorney Seth Uphoff told Associate Judge Mark Fellheimer on Friday that he responded so the court would know his arguments against the motions before Friday's hearing.
Coghlan argued the state cited cases and introduced new materials "less than 24 hours before the hearing."
But Scott Ripley, a special prosecutor assisting Uphoff with the case, argued there was "nothing earthshaking" in the state's response and while cases were cited, "it just states the law." One case addresses Coghlan's request that the court acquit Lamie of the charges; another addresses when second-degree murder applies.
Uphoff argues second-degree murder doesn't apply in the Lamie case because she "denies committing the conduct alleged to have caused the death of the victim" and even if the court disagrees and considers it, Lamie has never claimed — and likely never could claim — she was "acting in self-defense against an unarmed, 4-year-old child."
A hearing on Coghlan's post-trial motions and the sentencing hearing are scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 13. Lamie remains at the Livingston County jail.
During the trial, three state experts testified a child Kianna's size could not have generated enough force to cause the 33 bruises found across her body during an autopsy and the two severe head injuries that ultimately caused her death.
Uphoff maintained during closing arguments Lamie reached her breaking point when Kianna spilled dog food on May 3, 2011, and "grabbed her (Kianna) and slammed her repeatedly into the wall."
Kianna died of blunt force trauma to the head on May 4, 2011, a day after an ambulance was called to Lamie's Cullom home for a report of a child having seizure-like symptoms.
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 her husband, Josh Lamie, witnessed the fits or headbanging.