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Crime & Courts

Trial delayed in Cortland shaken-baby case

Katie Petrie appears with attorney Peter Buh in Judge Robbin Stuckert's courtroom Jan. 25 at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.
Katie Petrie appears with attorney Peter Buh in Judge Robbin Stuckert's courtroom Jan. 25 at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – The trial of a DeKalb woman accused of shaking a baby and causing brain damage has been postponed for a fourth time.

Katie L. Petrie, 35, of the 900 block of South 14th Street, is charged with two forms of aggravated battery to a child, the most serious of which is punishable by six to 30 years in prison. She was set to go to trial Tuesday, and the proceedings were expected to wrap up Wednesday.

Her lawyer, Peter Buh, filed a motion in April asking for more time, because his expert witness, referred to as “Dr. Arden” in the motion, first finished a report of medical records Monday and won’t be available to testify Tuesday, court records show.

Over the objection of First Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Klein, Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert granted the continuance, and no new trial date has been set. The case will next go before Judge Philip Montgomery on May 31, the records show.

Police responded Dec. 15, 2015, to a 911 call reporting a 6-month-old boy was having a seizure at Petrie’s Cortland home. The boy was under Petrie’s supervision at her home day care at the time, court records show.

The infant was taken to Kishwaukee Hospital and later flown to Rockford Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for critical injuries, and police think the seizure was triggered by head trauma caused by violent shaking.

The boy likely suffered permanent brain damage, Klein has said.

Klein’s response to Buh’s motion points out that he’s asked for continuances to find an expert witness since Sept. 9, 2016, and when he asked for more time in January after hiring an expert, Klein didn’t mince words after Buh conceded that doctor wasn’t qualified to testify.

“They finally hired one, never gave me a report, and it turns out they hired the wrong expert,” Klein said during a January hearing.

Her response to the motion argued that Buh didn’t specify the new expert witness’ first name, let alone the witness’ area of expertise or where they’re based.

Meanwhile, Klein’s response said that among the witnesses she plans to call are three doctors, including a neurosurgeon, “who are actively practicing medicine.”

“They must take time away from patients’ care to clear their schedules for trial,” Klein wrote.

Petrie’s bond initially was set at $500,000, but reduced to $50,000 in February 2016, with the condition that she have no contact with individuals younger than 18, including her own children. She posted $5,000 bail soon after it was lowered.

In March 2017, Stuckert granted Buh’s request to allow Petrie’s three children to live with her, shortly after she was granted custody in another case.

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