Teenager sentenced to three years in heroin case

WOODSTOCK – An 18-year-old Lake County teenager believed to have provided a fatal dose of heroin to a Johnsburg woman was sentenced to three years in prison.

Justin T. Hurt, of Round Lake Beach, pleaded guilty last week to a charge of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. The plea deal was accepted by McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather, who also recommended that Hurt serve his sentence in a minimum security prison, according to the sentencing order.

Hurt was 17 years old when he was arrested Nov. 21, 2013, for providing the heroin that killed Stephanie Habhab. She was 19.

He was subsequently charged with two counts of drug-induced homicide, both of which were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.

Drug-induced homicide is a crime punishable by between six and 30 years in prison.

Hurt's arrest was just shy of a law change in Illinois that places 17-year-olds charged with felonies in juvenile court.

"Six weeks later and he would have been in juvenile court," said his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer.

Prosecutors said they weighed that in their decision to drop the more serious charges against him.

"Based on his age and the factors and circumstances of this case, this is what I felt was appropriate," Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs said.

Combs said he conferred with Habhab's family and the Johnsburg police before signing off on the deal.

Hurt also was sentenced to two years on a Lake County drug charge stemming from the Johnsburg investigation. He pleaded guilty last week to possession of a controlled substance.

He will receive credit for time he served in McHenry County Jail while his case was pending, and he's also eligible for day-for-day credit. Prather also ordered Hurt serve two years on parole after his release.

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