EAST ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge David Herndon has moved up the sentencing date for heroin dealers Deborah Perkins and Douglas Oliver from Dec. 13 to Dec. 5.
Herndon changed the date after court personnel contacted families who hold Perkins and Oliver responsible for the deaths of two women.
Chris Keel, mother of the late Jennifer Herling, said, “It was set for the 13th, but something came up.”
She said they asked her and Jenny Thomason, mother of the late Jessie Williams, if they would prefer the 5th or the 19th.
“We both chose the fifth.”
She said they hope to fill the courtroom.
“We had T-shirts made,” she said. “We took them back to see if they could get the 13th off of them.”
"They’re going to let Jenny bring Jessie in. She’ll be in her urn, of course.
“I’m going to bring a big picture of Jennifer in her casket.
“They’ll have it all right there so they can see what they have done to us.”
Perkins and Oliver, mother and son, pleaded guilty in August to charges that they ran a heroin business from their home at 20 Kassing Drive in Fairview Heights.
Perkins stipulated that she bought heroin and supplied it to Oliver for resale.
She implicated Sean McGilvery of Belleville as another distributor.
McGilvery pleaded guilty in October to charges that he supplied heroin to former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook and others.
Cook pleaded guilty on Nov. 8, to charges of possessing heroin and using it while he possessed firearms.
Oliver’s plea agreement included an admission that death resulted from his crimes, subjecting him to a stiffer sentence.
Perkins disputes that death resulted from her crimes, so Herndon must decide if it did.
Herndon originally set separate sentencing dates for Perkins and Oliver, but he granted a joint hearing for the convenience of relatives.
Keel hopes to speak out not only about Perkins and Oliver but also about Cook, who presided over heroin possession charges against her daughter.
Herling pleaded guilty, and Cook placed her on probation.
“I’m going to see if I can speak to the judge before he sentences him," Keel said about Cook.
“I begged that man to help my daughter.”
District Judge Joe McDade of Peoria has set Cook’s sentencing for Jan. 17.
After Herling died, her grandmother, Jackie Keel, wrote Cook a letter asking for murder charges on Oliver.
“He took these young women’s life (sic)," she wrote. "It wasn’t just another overdose.”
Chris Keel agrees.
“I know he murdered my daughter,” she said.