A judge sentenced a 42-year-old Rockford man to nine years in prison after he sold heroin and cocaine to a man who died when he ingested the drugs at a Wonder Lake home.
Eric Williams, 42, of the 5900 block of Garrett Lane in Rockford, was indicted and charged with three counts of drug-induced homicide, a Class X felony.
Williams unlawfully delivered heroin and cocaine to Steffen Darnick, 31, of Belvidere, in Rockford on December 22, 2019, a grand jury indictment said.
Darnick’s mother told McHenry County sheriff’s detectives that Darnick was staying with her family in Wonder Lake after returning home from a drug rehabilitation facility, court documents said.
Darnick’s mother drove her son to Rockford on December 22, 2019, because he told her he had to pay a debt off to a drug dealer to protect his family.
The two arrived at a large parking lot. Darnick received a phone call and left his mother’s vehicle before returning ten minutes later, court documents said.
Darnick ingested the drugs two days later and died at his parents’ home in Wonder Lake.
Small bags containing powder residue were found alongside his body and toxicology results show he consumed heroin and cocaine before he died.
Detectives were able to recover text messages from Darnick’s phone, court documents said.
Darnick had been exchanging messages with a contact named “Eee.”
Detectives determined that Darnick ordered the drugs from “Eee” and bought them when his mother took him to Rockford.
On January 7, 2020, detectives went to Rockford and sent text messages to “Eee” from Darnick’s phone in an attempted drug deal bust.
Detectives were able to set up a drug deal with “Eee,” who believed he was going to meet with Darnick.
Detectives ordered “150 n 150,” which is the same order Darnick made to “Eee,” and they agreed to meet in the same parking lot.
However, “Eee” became suspicious and attempted to flee the scene, court documents said.
Police arrested the man, who they identified as Williams.
Williams was transported to the Winnebago County Jail on charges of aggravated battery, criminal damage to state-supported property and aggravated fleeing to elude.
McHenry County sheriff’s deputies later transported Williams to the McHenry County Jail in June 2020.
A jury trial began in April and Williams was found guilty of one count of drug-induced homicide.
The two other counts were dismissed by prosecutors.
McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrant sentenced Williams to nine years in state prison.
He must serve at least 75% of his sentence under the Illinois truth in sentencing guidelines.
He will receive credit for 504 days served in jail.
A motion filed by Williams’ attorney in May asked Wilbrant for a new trial, alleging that “the verdict is the result of passion, bias, and prejudice on the part of the jury against the Defendant.”
The motion was later denied.
Wilbrant ordered Williams to pay over $5,283 in court fees and fines.
“While law enforcement and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office have effectively stamped out local drug distribution over the last several years, users can still access drugs in places like Rockford, Milwaukee, and Chicago,” McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said.
“If places like Chicago are not going to vigorously enforce their drug laws, we will. The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has charged nearly 80 drug-induced homicide cases since 2017, compared with 12 in Kane County, 9 in Lake County, and 15 in Cook County,” Kenneally added.