Man charged with murder in DeKalb teen Gracie Sasso-Cleveland’s death headed back to court

Protestors expected to gather Wednesday to call for stricter sentences for those convicted of sexual violence

Police allege Timothy M. Doll, 29, of DeKalb, (shown in this May 9, 2023 booking photo) suffocated Gracie Sasso-Cleveland, 15, with a pillow after a fight, before discarding her body in a dumpster May 4, 2023 and tossing her belongings in the trash. Doll is charged with first-degree murder in the girl's death. (Inset photo provided by DeKalb County Jail)

SYCAMORE – A registered sex offender charged with murder in DeKalb teenager Gracie Sasso-Cleveland’s death is expected to appear back in DeKalb County court on Wednesday.

Timothy M. Doll, 29, of the 500 block of College Avenue in DeKalb, is being held without bond at DeKalb County Jail in Sycamore as he awaits proceedings while charged with two counts of first-degree murder in 15-year-old Sasso-Cleveland’s death. He also is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, concealment of a homicide, aggravated domestic battery, obstruction of justice, unlawful restraint and unlawful communication by a child sex offender.

If convicted, Doll could face life in prison.

In the wake of Doll’s court proceedings and the harrowing details of the teenager’s death, organizers said they’re planning a local protest outside the DeKalb County Courthouse after Doll’s hearing.

Bethany McCall, who knew Sasso-Cleveland, said there should be stricter punishments for those convicted of sexual violence.

“We want to eventually present a law to Congress as Gracie’s law,” McCall said in a statement to the Daily Chronicle. “For harsher penalties for domestic and sexual abusers, because it is clear they go back out and reoffend, and it many times leads to murder. It is somewhat of a movement we have started calling it #alliesforjustice and #menagainstmonsters.”

Gracie Sasso-Cleveland poses outside in this undated photo. Gracie, 15, was found dead in a dumpster May 7, 2023. Timothy M. Doll, 29, of DeKalb, is charged with first-degree murder in her death.

Doll is scheduled for arraignment at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore before Circuit Court Judge Philip Montgomery. Doll is represented by Yorkville-based special defense attorney Andrew Nickel.

Doll was arrested on May 7, the day Sasso-Cleveland’s body was found discarded in a dumpster near his home. She hadn’t been seen since May 4 and her family reported her missing to police on May 6. The DeKalb County Coroner’s Office ruled the girl’s cause of death was asphyxiation.

Doll is accused of suffocating Sasso-Cleveland 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 girl’s body.

During his initial court hearings following his arrest, Doll appeared to be wearing a back brace.

Since Sasso-Cleveland’s death, loved ones and local residents have spoken out about Doll after prosecutors alleged he had been in an inappropriate months-long relationship with Sasso-Cleveland, who was a DeKalb High School freshman half his age.

A handful of women gathered along Main Street outside the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore Monday, May 15, 2023. The women expressed solidarity for Gracie Sasso-Cleveland, 15,  a slain DeKalb High School freshman who's death is at the center of murder charges for 29-year-old Timothy M. Doll, of DeKalb, a registered sex offender. The women called for stricter Illinois laws against sex offenders.

Critics say they believe that just less than a month before Sasso-Cleveland’s death, Doll was given too light of a sentence after he pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a minor and attempted child pornography of a different girl in an unrelated 2020 case.

Doll was a registered sex offender at the time of Sasso-Cleveland’s death.

In exchange for the plea in that case, Circuit Court Judge Marcy 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. Buick also ordered Doll to undergo mandatory sexual predator treatment, register as a sex offender in Illinois and prohibited him from contacting or living near minors or schools.

Prosecutors have argued he violated the terms of his probation by engaging in inappropriate relations with Sasso-Cleveland.

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