MORRISON – Anna Schroeder, who shot and killed her mother, Peggy, in their Morrison home on July 6, 2017, will be sentenced at a two-day hearing Nov. 3 and 5 in Whiteside County Court.
Schroeder, who was 15 when she shot her mother between the eyes after using a ruse to get her to place a towel over her face, was to be sentenced a year prior, on Nov. 4 and 6, 2020, but COVID-19 intervened and the ensuing restrictions put the pause on many court cases.
She pleaded guilty Jan. 8, 2020, to second-degree murder; two counts of first degree murder and charges of arson and concealment of a homicidal death were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Schroeder, who still is being held at the Mary David Detention Home in Galena, did not appear and the status hearing this morning, although her presence will be required at sentencing.
Both sides are ready to go forward with sentencing her for second-degree murder, but scheduling issues – the availability of the defense’s expert witness, of Judge Trish Senneff, who is presiding over the case, and the state’s increasingly busy docket – have pushed the resolution to 5 months from now.
That infuriates Peggy Schroeder’s other daughter, Kaylene, and other family members and friends, who held signs up to passing cars during a small protest this morning at the intersection of U.S. Route 30 and North Cherry Street, a block south of the courthouse.
Schroeder, who turned 15 just 3 days before the murder, will turn 19 on July 3.
That she still is in Mary Davis, primarily a juvenile home where she can attend classes, get counseling, watch movies and the like, as opposed to being housed in Whiteside County jail, is a gross delay of justice and a slap in the face to Peggy’s survivors, they say.
“It’s about time. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder,” said Peggy’s sister, Charlene Wilkinson. “They should have hauled her here [to Whiteside County jail] right away. It’s a broken system.”
“They just keep dragging it out,” said Nicole Leuer of Mt. Carroll, Charlene’s daughter. “There’s no consequences.”
Mary Davis “is like a slumber party,” said Anna’s sister, Kaylene, 22.
Meanwhile, on a motion filed by State’s Attorney Terry Costello on April 20, Schroeder’s accused accomplice, Rachel Helm of Rock Falls, was transferred from Mary Davis to the jail, where she awaits resolution of her case.
Helm, who turned 19 on Jan. 20, is charged with arson and concealment of a homicidal death; she has a pretrial hearing July 28.
Investigators say Helm encouraged Schroeder to her kill mother, who she said did not approve of the teens’ romantic relationship, then Helm helped her cover up the shooting by trying to clean the scene before setting the Schroeders’ house on fire.
Costello declined to say whether he would seek to have Schroeder transferred as well, but Wilkinson said he told her he planned to file a motion to transfer soon, and then will see what the judge says.
Sheriff John Booker has said it costs the county about $125 a day to house an suspect at Mary Davis, as opposed to about $70 a day in the jail.
Wilkinson also does not approve of the plea agreement.
“They have all the evidence to lock her up for a very long time. I had no say in it at all, he [Costello] took the easy route and accepted the plea bargain,” she posted on Facebook after the hearing.
“Then he told me her max instead of forty is now 20. I questioned 20 was even enough,” she wrote.
“At the time I did not know it’s a year for a year so that’s only ten years. Four so far spent in juvie. So IF and only IF the Judge rule the max of twenty she will only serve six years in prison for Murdering my sister. Broken system.”