Trial continues for Crystal Lake man charged in fatal overdose

A McHenry County Judge will issue his ruling next month in the case of a Crystal Lake man who is charged in another woman’s overdose death although he didn’t personally deliver the drugs.

Corrections officers escorted 24-year-old Sabastian Zarbock back to the McHenry County Jail on Tuesday, the last of a four-day trial by judge.

Zarbock faces three counts of drug-induced homicide, a class X felony typically punishable by six to 30 years in prison. He and another man, 29-year-old Rufus McGee, were arrested following the May 28, 2019, death of 22-year-old Elgin woman Shannon Finn.

As Tuesday’s proceedings were coming to an end, McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt reflected on what role accountability might have in a case like Zarbock’s. In other words: What does someone have to do to be held accountable for a drug delivery they didn’t personally carry out?

“This is a case of a novel legal theory in regard to a drug-induced homicide,” Wilbrandt said, referring specifically to cases that he has come in contact with.

The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has prosecuted other drug-induced homicide cases in which more than one person is charged. Those cases, however, are sometimes pleaded out before they make it to trial. Other times, the allegations tie a defendant more directly to the drug deal.

According to charging records, Zarbock is accused not of delivering the heroin that killed Finn but assisting her in arranging the transaction shortly before she died.

McGee has pleaded not guilty to three counts of drug-induced homicide also tied to Finn’s death.

“The issue that the court wishes both sides to explore in terms of their closing arguments would be this issue of accountability,” Wilbrandt said on Tuesday.

Zarbock’s attorney, Special Public Defender Thomas Carroll, and the prosecutors assigned to the case are expected to submit their 15-page, typed closing arguments by next week. Wilbrandt attributed the school-like request to his 25 years spent teaching law at McHenry County College.

Although Zarbock didn’t personally deliver heroin to Finn, prosecutors have said he played a role in arranging the transaction.

“He set up a deal to get heroin in the hands of Ms. Finn,” McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Miller said in court Tuesday.

Zarbock initially told officers during a police interview that he called the dealer, who investigators later identified as McGee, from another person’s phone, according to a partial recording of the interview that was played in court Friday. Zarbock later told the officers that another woman contacted the dealer.

Finn, Zarbock and two others then met McGee near a mall in Oak Brook where they purchased the drugs with Finn’s money, according to police testimony.

Prosecutors on Friday stopped playing Zarbock’s recorded police interview before the officers delved into “privileged” details about the police investigation. With Zarbock’s permission, however, WIlbrandt will have the opportunity to review the full video in private before issuing a decision.

Wilbrandt is expected to issue his written decision on Feb. 16.

Katie Smith

Katie has reported on the crime and courts beat for the Northwest Herald since 2017. She began her career with Shaw Media in 2015 at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, where she reported on the courts, city council, the local school board, and business.