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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Press Release

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Appellate Court Affirms Twenty-Year Drug Induced Homicide Sentence in Death of Foreign Exchange Student

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced today that the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois has affirmed the twenty-year sentence imposed by Judge Liam Brennan upon Francis Emanuele for supplying a fatal dose of methadone to a fifteen-year-old foreign exchange student from Spain. On November 5, 2018, Emanuele entered a plea of guilty to one count of Drug Induced Homicide, a Class X Felony and one count of Indecent Solicitation of a Child, a Class 3 Felony. On February 22, 2019, Judge Brennan sentenced Emanuele to consecutive prison terms of twenty years for the Drug Induced Homicide conviction and four years for the Indecent Solicitation of a Child conviction, for a total of twenty-four years.

On May 3, 2016, the victim informed her host parents that she did not feel well enough to attend school that day and returned to her bedroom. At approximately 6:40 p.m. that evening, she was found unresponsive and not breathing in her bed. The host parents immediately contacted the Glen Ellyn Police Department who opened an investigation into the girl’s death. In the girl’s bedroom, investigators found an oral syringe with a small amount of a clear liquid and a prescription bottle with a small amount of clear liquid contained within. Lab tests identified the clear liquid as methadone. The investigation ultimately led authorities to Emanuele as the person who not only supplied the fatal drug but also instructed the girl on how to ingest it.  The victim was introduced to Emanuele through another foreign exchange student who was living with Emanuele and his family. The investigation also revealed that Emanuele and the girl had exchanged sexually explicit text messages. At sentencing, Emanuele faced a possible penalty of between eight to thirty-five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In his appeal Emanuele claimed that the twenty-year sentence imposed upon him for drug inducted homicide was excessive, arguing that the Trial Court considered the indecent solicitation of a child conviction in fashioning the drug-induced homicide sentence; failed to identify a single mitigating factor and improperly found that defendant’s motive for implementing the plan was to have intercourse with the victim rather than engaging in sexual acts other than intercourse. In its decision, the Appellate Court noted that “It is well established that the trial court is the proper forum to determine a sentence” and that “A sentence within the statutory limits for the offense will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion.” Additionally, the Appellate Court noted that a Class X Felony carries a sentencing range of six to thirty years and that the “Defendant’s 20-year sentence is two years longer than the midpoint of this range.” Upon consideration of Mr. Emanuele’s arguments, The Appellate Court found that “The record belies defendant’s arguments” and that the “trial court did not abuse its discretion when it sentenced the defendant to 20 years’ imprisonment for drug induced homicide.”

“Slightly more than four years ago, to satisfy his perverted sexual desires, Mr. Emanuele supplied a fifteen-year-old girl with a fatal dose of methadone and instruction on how to ingest it,” Berlin said. “After his first attempt with the Trial Court to have his sentence reduced failed, Mr. Emanuele tried again at the Appellate Court to reduce his well-deserved sentence. I would like to thank the Appellate Court for their thorough review of Mr. Emanuele’s claims and for seeing through his attempt to minimize his culpability in the death of a young girl. I would also like to thank Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Schwind of my office’s Criminal Appeals Division for her work in ensuring that Mr. Emanuele serves each and every day to which he was sentenced.”

Before being eligible for parole, Emanuele must serve 75% of his twenty-year sentence for Drug Induced Homicide and 50% of his four-year sentence for Indecent Solicitation of a Child consecutively for a total of seventeen years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Justice McLaren delivered the judgment of the court with Justices Zenoff and Hudson concurring.