Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - March 25, 1999, Alton, Illinois
SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836No mother would do‘I knew something wasn’t right with me/ Sims testifies
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
Telegraph staff writer
EDWARDSVILLE - Paula Sims says she had never heard of postpartum depression when she killed her baby daughters in 1986 and 1989, but now she believes it was the reason for the crimes.
“I knew something wasn’t right with me. No mother would do something like that,” she testified Wednesday during a hearing in Madison County Circuit Court on a petition to grant her a new murder trial.
Her testimony was her first courtroom admission of the crimes and confirmed details she gave an author for a book about her in 1992.
“I decided to tell the truth in 1992, that I had actually done what I was convicted of,” Sims said. “I was in a state of denial (previously). But I’m telling the truth now.”
Three defense witnesses testified Wednesday in support of Sims’ contention that she suffered from mental illness at
Three defense witnesses testified Wednesday in Support of Sims’ contention that she suffered from mental illness at the time of the killings of her two daughters.
the time of the killings, a factor that her attorney, Donald Groshong, never tried to take advantage of during her 1990 murder trial. Alleged incompetence of counsel is the primary ground under which she is seeking the new trial.
Sims, a former Alton resident, is serving a life sentence in the Dwight Correctional Center for the 1989 murder of her 6-week-old daughter, Heather, and for obstruction of justice and concealment of a homicide in the 1986 death of her 13-day-old daughter, Loralei.
At the time, Sims told authorities that her daughters were kidnapped by masked
men, the first time while she was living near Brighton in 1986 and the second time in Alton in 1989. Loralei’s body was found several days later in a pile of brush near the home. Heather’s eventually was found in a trash can in West Alton, Mo.
Sims said Wednesday that she stuck to the kidnapping story until after her 1990 conviction, when she told the truth during a private courtroom meeting with Groshong, Assistant Madison County State’s Attorney Don Weber and her husband, Robert Sims.
Until that time, she said, she never told the truth to anyone, including her lawyer.
“He told me it didn’t matter if I was guilty or innocent, if I kept my mouth shut, he would get me out of it,” Sims said.
One of the defense witnesses, Kathleen Hamill of the Illinois Appellate Public Defender’s Office, testified that she contacted Groshong in May 1989 to discuss the possibility of using the post-partum depression defense with Sims. She had been researching the subject as part of a clemency petition for another client, who later became a fellow inmate of Sims’ at Dwight.
Groshong did not act on Hamill’s advice, and it wasn't until three years later that Sims learned from her fellow inmate that the post-partum defense even existed, she testified.
Prosecutor Rich Rybak pressed Sims about her mental state and the reasons for lying about the crimes.
“I lied to (police) although I believed it. In my mental illness, I envisioned it and made
■ See SIMS, Page A-9
The Telegraph/MARGIE M BARNES Paula Sims enters the Madison County Courthouse Wednesday for a hearing on her petition for a new trial.
on with his head Audiences should get a scare at The Rep
Vol. 164, No. 69 — 50 cents
: Season opener
i Marquette I defeats IEA-WR V
Mostly sunny and cod. High 49; low 28
Thursday, March 25,1999
Couple finds wav to turn hobby into business
Teen hit by car, critically injured
By STEVE WHITWORTH
Telegraph staff writer
GODFREY - An eighth-grader was hit by a car and critically injured Wednesday while crossing Godfrey Road outside North Middle School.
John Johnson, 14, of Godfrey, was rushed by ambulance to Saint Anthony’s Medical Center in Alton after being hit then was flown by helicopter to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
Nursing supervisor Jane Kenton said the teen-ager was in critical condition at Cardinal Glennon.
The accident occurred about 3:05 p.m., said North Middle School Principal Max Heinz.
Nose for drugs
■ See TEEN, Page A-9
The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH
Alton Police Department canine officer Tompall Gibson leads his partner Lex in a drug sweep through the halls of Alton High School Wednesday. The dog sniffed out nothing. Story, Page A-3
Lover’s lane killer gets 24 years
By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT
Telegraph staff writer
EDWARDSVILLE — A woman was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison for the Oct. 2, 1996, butcher knife murder of a man in the “lover’s lane” area of Rock Spring Park in Alton.
Cory E. Butler, 20, formerly of Florissant, Mo., was sentenced Wednesday by Madison County Circuit Judge Charles Romani Jr.
Butler pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder in the stabbing of Kevin P. Creson, 25. of Bridgeton, Mo.
Creson and Butler went to the lover’s lane area to have sex, but Butler pulled a knife from her purse, stabbed Creson 15 times and slit his throat, police said. She stole Creson’s car, money and cellular telephone before fleeing to Missouri.
Creson claimed the stabbing was in self-defense, but police painted a different picture.
“It was the most brutal murder I have ever seen,” Alton police Detective Scott Golike testified during Butler’s sentencing hearing Wednesday.
■ See KILLER, Page A-9
NATO pounds Yugoslavia
Area/Illinois .A-3-10 Bulletin Board .A-6
Ford, Graham, Hamilton, Hawks, Jones, Laird, Leaven, Paulfrey, Poole, Rollins, Wallace, Walters
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) — Wave after wave of NATO warplanes and missiles struck Yugoslavia Wednesday, pummeling army barracks, power plants and air defense batteries in an effort to force the country’s defiant leader to cease his onslaught against Kosovo Albanians.
The NATO attack came after months of diplomacy failed to end a year of fighting between Yugoslav forces and ethnic Albanian separatists that has killed more than 2,000 people and left more than
■ Clinton calls assault ‘a moral imperative’
■ Stealth bomber debuts
400,000 homeless in Kosovo, a Yugoslav province.
Yugoslavia declared a state of war shortly after the first attacks, stepping up the mobilization of troops. Lt. Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, comman
der of Yugoslav troops in Kosovo, said 40 targets were hit in the first waves but that damage was “minimal.” Explosions resounded in Kosovo’s capital of Pristina starting at 7:55 p.m. (12:55 p.m. CST), and the city of 280,000 was plunged into darkness when the electricity failed. The official Tanjug news agency reported four heavy blasts in the city, including three from the area of Slatina airport.
■ See NATO, Page A-9
Friday, MAR. 26
WEEKEND BANDS _
Saturday & Sunday MAR. 27 & 28