Prosecutors say evidence almost complete ahead of Doll murder trial in DeKalb teen’s killing

1 year since DeKalb teen Gracie Sasso-Cleveland found suffocated to death, Timothy Doll’s murder trial remains pending

Timothy M. Doll, of DeKalb, is escorted by DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies as he enters a DeKalb County courtroom last year.

SYCAMORE – Prosecutors this week said that evidence collection is almost complete ahead of the expected murder trial of registered sex offender Timothy Doll, who is accused in the slaying of DeKalb High School freshman Gracie Sasso-Cleveland a year ago.

Lead prosecutor Scott Schwertley of the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that investigators have spent the past months gathering DNA, fingerprints and other evidence in Doll’s case ahead of a jury trial.

No trial date has been set.

Schwertley said he shared all that he has with Doll’s defense attorney, Andrew Nickel, who was appointed as a special public defender to represent Doll.

“We tendered what we believe, what we think might be all the discovery,” Schwertley said. “It was a substantial amount of stuff dealing with lots of the things that have been going on in the course of investigation as continued throughout this case.”

A display remembering Gracie Sasso-Cleveland is set up Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at the Sycamore Community Sports Complex during a celebration of her life on what would have been her sweet 16 birthday. Sasso-Cleveland, 15, was found dead May 7, 2023, in DeKalb. Timothy M. Doll, 29, of DeKalb, is charged with first-degree murder in her death.

Attending his court hearing virtually from the DeKalb County Jail, where he’s been held without bond since his May 7, 2023, arrest, Doll did not speak during the hearing but appeared alert.

Doll, 30, of DeKalb, was charged with first-degree murder after DeKalb police found 15-year-old Sasso-Cleveland’s body May 7, 2023, discarded inside a laundry basket in a dumpster outside of Doll’s College Avenue apartment, according to DeKalb police. The DeKalb County Coroner’s Office ruled that she died from asphyxiation May 4. Police allege that Doll suffocated the girl to death, according to court records.

The teenager’s mother, Ericka Sasso, had reported her missing to DeKalb police the day before, May 6, 2023, after her daughter did not show up for work. Authorities said they believe Sasso-Cleveland was killed May 4, 2023.

Circuit Court Judge Philip Montgomery asked Schwertley about the status of pending DNA lab tests, which he ordered collected from Doll in August and again in January at prosecutors’ requests.

“That came back,” Schwertley said in response. “DNA, fingerprints, those are all done. I think the only thing that could potentially still be out there, judge, is maybe some of the search warrants that we did a month ago. ... They’re phone search warrants.”

Nickel told Montgomery that the evidence he intends to go over from prosecutors is substantial. He said the stack of papers alone measured “three-quarters of an inch.”

Doll previously pleaded not guilty in connection with the girl’s killing. Authorities, however, have alleged that he admitted to killing her, according to court records. Police said he also admitted that he knew she was 15.

Doll is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, a Class M felony; aggravated criminal sexual abuse; concealment of homicidal death; aggravated domestic battery; two counts of obstructing justice; unlawful restraint; and unlawful communication of a child sex offender.

A registered sex offender when he’s alleged to have killed Sasso-Cleveland, Doll could face extended sentencing if convicted of first-degree murder, Montgomery said. If found guilty of the Class M felony, Doll could face 20 to 120 years in prison.

Prosecutors have alleged that Doll’s actions were in retaliation against Sasso-Cleveland after they argued at his apartment the night of May 4, 2023. She asked him to let her leave, and Doll allegedly attacked her, with the girl telling him she couldn’t breathe at one point, according to court records. He then tried to conceal the death and hide the attack from police, at first telling investigators that he hadn’t seen the girl since the previous day, according to a DeKalb police report filed in court May 9.

Doll later told police that he knew Sasso-Cleveland was 15, and that he disposed of her body after she was dead, according to court records.

Doll is expected to appear for another status hearing at 9 a.m. May 29.

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