Crime & Courts

Prison sentence stands for man convicted of killing Island Lake woman in 2014

Howard Dibbern
Howard Dibbern

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County judge will not reconsider a lengthy prison sentence for a Chicago man who was found guilty but mentally ill in the first-degree murder of 48-year-old Karen Scavelli in 2014.

Judge Sharon Prather sentenced Howard Dibbern to 56 years in prison Nov. 23 after a sentencing hearing. Prather found Dibbern guilty of all charges against him following a partially stipulated bench trial, including first-degree murder, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and concealing a homicide.

Dibbern, 52, was arrested after authorities said he killed Scavelli on June 2, 2014, in her Island Lake home. Dibbern beat and stabbed Scavelli, broke her neck and then hid her body under pillows and blankets.

He then stole her vehicle and led police on a “high-speed chase” the next day before crashing into a Mundelein home and attempted suicide. Dibbern’s attorney, McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Rick Behof, proceeded with an insanity defense, meaning he argued that his client was legally insane at the time of the alleged crime.

Behof filed the motion on behalf of his client for a new trial and to reconsider the sentence imposed, arguing that the court erred by not finding Dibbern not guilty by reason of insanity. The motion also stated that Dibbern contended the sentence imposed was "excessive," according to the motion.

Prather said in court Thursday that she considered all factors when determining an appropriate sentence, including the defendant's past criminal history. Dibbern has spent time in prison on six prior occasions and was out on parole when he was charged with Scavelli's murder.

Prather also said she would not give the defendant a new trial because there was no new evidence presented to prove Dibbern was insane at the time of the crime. Dibbern was appointed an appellate defender and plans to appeal.

He was in custody at McHenry County Jail as of Friday afternoon, awaiting transportation to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

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