Crime & Courts

Defendant in sex case recovering

WOODSTOCK – A former Lake in the Hills man remained hospitalized Thursday in stable condition, a day after an apparent suicide attempt in a McHenry County courtroom.

Robert W. Lucht, 56, was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting a girl several times when she was between 7 and 9 years old.

Moments after the jury’s guilty verdict, Lucht tipped back an envelope made from notebook paper and poured a granule-like substance, possibly rat poison, into his mouth.

Bailiffs took Lucht to the floor once they were told he was trying to swallow something, but he refused to spit it out, saying he wouldn’t go to jail for something he didn’t do. He was taken by ambulance to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock and placed on a 72-hour hold, hospital spokeswoman Kim Kubiak said.

Courtroom 302, where the incident occurred, was closed for about a half-hour Thursday morning after small, blue pellets were found on the first bench in the gallery and on the floor.

Marv Fell, who was named chief of court security less than a week before the incident, said the granules were collected and turned over to the investigations unit of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

Lucht had been out on bond before and during the trial and had to go through security to enter the courthouse. But security metal detectors don’t detect any sort of powder or pills.

People typically only face additional screening if they set off the metal detectors or act suspiciously, Fell said. He said he didn’t believe Lucht’s apparent suicide attempt could have been prevented.

Fell said it was unclear whether Lucht brought the substance into the courthouse or whether it was handed to him by someone else. Lucht’s two sisters and a son were in the gallery at the time.

The investigation is ongoing, Fell said.

Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said that policies and procedures will be reviewed as a result of the incident.

“We want to make sure that everybody in the courtroom is safe,” he said.

Lucht’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 20. He faces a minimum of 21 years in prison and a maximum of 120 years.

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