SYCAMORE – A DeKalb man charged with murder in the grisly death of teenager Gracie Sasso-Cleveland wants a different judge to preside over his case than the current one who sentenced him last month after he pleaded guilty in an unrelated 2020 sex abuse case.
Timothy M. Doll, 29, of the 500 block of College Avenue, has been accused of suffocating the girl with a pillow for three minutes before putting her body in a laundry basket and discarding it in a nearby dumpster, according to court records. Doll then called paramedics for help after he injured his back lifting the 15-year-old DeKalb High School freshman’s body, court records assert.
Sasso-Cleveland’s family and loved ones gathered in the courtroom Tuesday afternoon to view the proceedings. Ericka Sasso, the girl’s mother, also was present. Sasso reported her daughter missing to DeKalb police on May 6, and investigators found her body in the dumpster the next day.
Sasso said last week she wants Doll to be kept in the DeKalb County Jail in Sycamore while he awaits trial and wants him punished if found guilty. Sasso also said she wants to raise awareness about her daughter’s death and the details surrounding it.
“I feel that the court system failed her,” Sasso said during a vigil for her daughter Friday. “That guy shouldn’t have been out of jail.”
Another court hearing was set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in front of Chief Judge Bradley Waller. That hearing would mark Doll’s fourth court hearing regarding his possible release on bond since he was charged with first-degree murder in the girl’s death.
On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Marcy Buick agreed to remove the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office from representing Doll. The office represents Sasso-Cleveland’s mother on separate court proceedings. Buick instead appointed Yorkville-based defense attorney Andrew Nickel to represent Doll.
Nickel on Tuesday asked for Buick to be substituted in the case. Waller is expected to hear the judge substitution request Wednesday morning, and decide whether to select a different Circuit Court judge to preside over Doll’s case. The question of the judge in the case would precede any decision on the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s petition to deny Doll bail.
Buick last month accepted Doll’s guilty plea in a separate case stemming from Jan. 11, 2020, charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and attempted child pornography after a video surfaced of Doll engaging in inappropriate relations with a minor – not Sasso-Cleveland – court records show. In exchange for the plea, Buick sentenced Doll to 2½ years in prison and 30 months of probation. At the time of his April 12 plea, however, he’d already served his jail time under electronic home monitoring.
Buick inherited the 2020 case from now-retired Circuit Court Judge Robbin Stuckert in 2021. Court records show Doll posted $3,000 bond on a $30,000 reduced bail for that case Stuckert set June 30, 2020.
Doll’s new charges on the May 4 death of Sasso-Cleveland has impacted his previous criminal felony case also.
Buick will remain presiding over Doll’s previous 2020 felony case, however, as it’s post-sentence. The state’s attorney’s office has filed a motion to revoke probation on the January 2020 case, court records show. If approved during a hearing set for 8:45 a.m. on June 8, Doll could be eligible for resentencing on that case under Illinois law, prosecutors said. Doll could face resentencing of up to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors argue he broke conditions of his probation – that he refrain from contacting minors – by entering into an inappropriate relationship with Sasso-Cleveland. At the time of Sasso-Cleveland’s death, Doll was a registered sex offender because of his guilty plea in April.
For the second day in a row, several women gathered along North Main Street outside the DeKalb County Courthouse leading up to Doll’s 1:30 p.m. hearing. The women on Monday expressed dismay over Sasso-Cleveland’s death and called for stricter Illinois laws punishing sex offenders.