Many believe that the fate of our lives are in the hands of God, and God alone.
However, to sit and watch someone you love suffer, is truly one of the most difficult feats that none of us ever want to come across. At what point, if ever, does it become okay to end the suffering of our loved ones for their greater good?
Courtney was born with severe cerebral palsy and spent the first 5 years of her life in an adoption home. Her future mother, Bonnie Liltz, soon adopted her and planned to give Courtney the best life she could. Courtney was so severely disabled, that she was unable to walk, or even eat by herself.
Bonnie Liltz was a blessing to Courtney. According to everyone that knew the pair, Bonnie was a loving single mother, who cared for Courtney beyond measure. The difficulty they faced in their everyday lives was nothing they couldn’t handle…
Bonnie Liltz was a survivor of ovarian cancer. When Courtney turned 28, she feared that it was returning after she noticed her medical condition was declining. Bonnie had severe intestinal damage from previous cancer treatment, among other things.
The thought of the fate of her daughter when she was no longer here sickened Liltz. She knew the amount of work it took, and felt that no one would be able to adequately care for her. It was at this point that Liltz came up with a plan to end her daughter’s life, in what she believed would be a painless ending.
When Courtney was 28 years old, Bonnie administered a heavy amount of medication through Courtney’s feeding tube, ultimately ending her life. Almost immediately, Bonnie then ingested the medication herself, finishing it off with a glass of wine, hoping to end her own life as well. Unfortunately, for her, she survived.
Bonnie Liltz was charged with first degree murder. Her lawyer, Tom Glasgow, had her plead guilty to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Bonnie and her team of attorneys had hoped that she would avoid prison time due to her awful medical condition, and sympathy from the prosecution…
Prior to Bonnie’s sentencing, the Chicago Tribune reached out to a group of legal experts to get an idea of their thoughts on what punishment Bonnie would be awarded. There seemed to be a general consensus that this case would result in probational time for Bonnie. This was believed due to her health condition, and the circumstances of the situation. There was very little belief that she would be a repeat offender, nor did anyone believe she took her daughters life to make her life easier.
While in court, the judge reminded Liltz that the murder she committed was not an act of love. He stated that, in fact, it was a crime that she would pay the consequences for. Judge Greenberg had full intentions of assuring that Bonnie would see prison time.
In 2016, Judge Joel Greenberg was recommended by the prosecution to administer probation to Liltz. They sympathized with her intentions, and did not see her as a cold-hearted killer. However, despite recommendations, the judge sentenced her to four years in prison.
The story gained media attention nationwide. There was a huge moral conflict that divided our country. On one hand, many felt that Bonnie was merely trying to save her daughter from years of suffering. On the other hand, others felt that by the judge giving Bonnie such a ‘light’ sentence, it somehow devalued the life of Courtney Liltz…
In actuality, the sentence that Bonnie received was a small price to pay. If Bonnie had been convicted of the charge she initially had, first-degree murder, she would have had a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. Additionally, her manslaughter sentence could have been as high as 14 years.
Many stories in the media were sympathetic to Liltz, understanding the conflict that she must have encountered. This angered activists who fought tirelessly for the rights of the disabled. One particular group, called ‘Not Dead Yet’, was extremely outraged. They felt that the media barely mentioned Courtney, which they claimed was a common occurrence with the media in assisted killings.
After 70 days in prison, Liltz was granted bond, a highly unusual thing for a murderer to receive. Her lawyers petitioned for her release while they appealed her case due to the fact that she was not receiving adequate health care for her ailing condition. They feared she would die in prison, something that could be avoided if she was home.
Judge Greenberg decided to send Liltz back to prison. He said her bond was over, and she must go back to finish her time. She was set to return in November 2017, despite her failing medical status…
Two days before Bonnie was set to return to prison, she made a move that would shock everyone. She decided to take her own life in the same manner she attempted before. Officers went to her apartment after receiving a call from a distraught family member.
While Bonnie’s mother was devastated over the death of her daughter, she knew that Courtney was now at peace. Gladys Liltz, Bonnie’s mother, was quoted by the Chicago Tribune stating, “She is at peace now, in Heaven with her daughter. That’s all she ever wanted, was to be with Courtney.”
Bonnie’s sister has since said that she believes Judge Greenberg is responsible for Bonnie’s suicide. She said that Bonnie was petrified of going back to prison, mainly because her request for special medical care was declined. A week before her suicide, Bonnie’s lawyer, Tom Glasgow, had requested that the judge provide Bonnie with the special medical attention she needed in prison. Greenberg refused.
Bonnie’s sister said that there would be no service for Bonnie, rather she would be cremated. According to Bonnie’s sister, the family was devastated over her passing. Bonnie had just recently hosted Thanksgiving, where she did not give any indication that she was struggling to cope with her life…
Those who knew Bonnie and had spoken of her, have said nothing but great things about her. According to friends and family, she was a selfless person, who cared for everyone around her, even when she was going through some of the most difficult times in her life. They truly sympathized with what she was going through.
This is truly a case that made an impact on the lives of many. It makes you question your morality, and how strong your trust in God is. There is no right or wrong answer here, and unfortunately the outcome of the case had a dire result for everyone involved.