No fitness hearing for Sucher

Rock Falls mans public defender withdraw’s motion following mental evaluation

Andrew J. Sucher

MOUNT CARROLL – The attorney for a Rock Falls man charged in the death of a Sterling DCFS worker will not seek a hearing to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

Andrew Sucher, 25, faces at least 20 to 60 years in prison in the death of Pamela Knight, 59, of Dixon. Knight died Feb. 8 in a Chicago hospital of injuries investigators say Sucher inflicted on Sept. 29 when he kicked her in the head, fracturing her skull and causing severe brain damage.

Sucher is being held on $1 million bond, charged with five counts of first-degree murder, as well as aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery of a state employee, each of which carries 2 to 5 years in prison.

Friday in Carroll County Court, Sucher's public defender, Colleen Buckwalter, withdrew her motion for a fitness hearing.

The results of a mental evaluation were submitted to the court Feb. 23. At the time, Buckwalter told Judge John "Jerry" Kane that she had not yet been able to discuss the contents with her client, and asked for some time to decide if a fitness hearing was needed.

The contents of such evaluations are not part of the public record, but Carroll County State's Attorney Scott Brinkmeier said at that hearing that he didn't see anything in it to indicate Sucher was not mentally fit.

Both sides now have 45 days in which to file any motions in the case; a motions hearing was set for May 4, and the trial for May 21. Those dates are fluid and depend upon, among other things, what, if any, motions are filed.

Knight, a veteran Department of Children and Family Services worker based in its Sterling office, went to Sucher's home to take a 2-year-old into protective custody. When he wasn't home, she went to his parents' home in Milledgeville to check on the whereabouts of the child; she was attacked shortly after getting out of her car.

She spent the following 4 months hospitalized, the first 2 in a coma, underwent five "major surgical procedures," and in the last few weeks of her life was being treated at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago, trying to learn how to communicate using eye movements and undergoing physical therapy to help her regain movement in her arms and legs.

She was admitted to another Chicago hospital 4 days before she died for unspecified emergency surgery.

Sucher also is charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer, which carries 3 to 7 years.

Officials say he was being moved to another cell in the Carroll County Jail on Dec. 19 when he became "verbally combative" and punched Chief Deputy Craig Dimmick in the face. He subsequently was transferred to Stephenson County, where he remains.

Bond in that case is $75,000.

​Sucher also has pleaded not guilty in Whiteside County to aggravated battery of a child, which carries 2 to 5 years, and battery, domestic battery, and interfering with the reporting of a domestic battery, all misdemeanors.

He is accused of dragging a 6-year-old by the foot and striking him in the face with a squirt gun, and of throwing a woman against a wall and taking her phone in a July 29 incident.

He was out on bond in that case when Knight was attacked. It's on hold while the Carroll County cases proceed.