An Illinois appeals court, in an unusual move, allowed a mother recently convicted of killing her adopted daughter with cerebral palsy to leave jail on bond after 72 days, while it reviews her four-year sentence.
On May 27, 2015, Bonnie Liltz, 56, delivered a fatal dose of prescription drugs into her 28-year-old daughter’s feeding tube. Liltz argued that she terminated her daughter’s life because she was “scared and overwhelmed” by her caregiving duties, according to the Chicago Tribune. Her father called it an “act of love.”
Although initially charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors allowed Liltz to plead guilty to a lesser sentence of involuntary murder, which has a maximum sentence of 14 years in the state. Cook County Judge Joel Greenblatt sentenced her to a four-year sentence on May 16, 2016.
“The choice you made that morning was not an act of love. It was a crime,” Greenblatt said. “Life is precious … even a life that is profoundly disabled. Your daughter, Courtney, was innocent, vulnerable and fragile.”
For many disability advocates, the commentary and sympathy for Liltz reflects a disturbing double standard when homicide victims have disabilities.
“What if it was a child without a disability?” Tony Paulauski, executive director of the Arc of Illinois, told CNN in an article reporting on the four-year sentence. “She would have been tarred and feathered. There would have been no mercy. The judge obviously realized that the young woman’s life was taken from her.”