Chicago woman on parole for murder granted pre-trial release in La Salle County drug case

Phillips faces up to 60 years for La Salle drug seizure

Destinee Phillips

A woman on parole for murder was granted pre-trial release Monday after, prosecutors allege, she was caught with about 2½ pounds of cocaine.

Destine D. Phillips, 24, of Chicago, appeared Monday in La Salle County Circuit Court for a detention hearing. Prosecutors allege she was moving 1,180 grams (2.6 pounds) of cocaine seized during a Friday traffic stop on Interstate 80 near the Interstate 39 interchange near La Salle.

If convicted of unlawful possession of controlled substance (more than 900 grams) of cocaine, Phillips would face an extended sentence of 15 to 60 years in prison with no possibility of probation. She would be required to serve 75% of any resulting sentence.

Assistant La Salle County State’s Attorney Laura Hall asked to have Phillips jailed pending trial, citing not only the volume of cocaine but also Phillips’ criminal history.

According to court records, Phillips served five years in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for murder and attempted murder. At age 14, Phillips shot two women, killing one.

In response, Chicago defense attorney Hallie Bezner said Phillips has had “zero contact” with the justice system since her release from juvenile custody and presented a low risk to the public and a low risk of flight.

Bezner also hinted she might challenge the seizure. According to court filings and open-court statements, Phillips was clocked at 98 mph on I-80 and the state trooper who pulled her over found an empty bottle of tequila. Though Phillips passed field-sobriety tests a search was conducted and police seized a shoebox containing a block of cocaine.

“So I’m already questioning how (there was) probable cause to search the vehicle,” Bezner said.

Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. declined the state’s request to detain Phillips. Ryan said he “toyed with detention,” but noted the murder case was a juvenile matter, “which we always have to look at differently.”

Phillips will next appear April 18 for arraignment.