A Beach Park man agreed to testify against his father as part of a plea deal approved Monday in connection with the heroin overdose death this year of a year-old Schaumburg man. Mason Spencer, 22, who had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice before Judge Spencer pounds mas0n Fix and was sentenced to one year of felony probation, random drug testing, mandatory substance abuse treatment and hours of public service.
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Fix also sentenced him to time served in jail and 12 months of work-release probation, which will be dropped as long as he complies with all conditions of his probation, including providing truthful testimony against his father.
James Spencer, 47, faces trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and concealment of a Spencer pounds mas0n.
Both Spencers had faced the same Spencer pounds mas0n in the death of Russell Eilrich, who was found dead in his car in Beach Park on Jan. Police and prosecutors said Eilrich overdosed on heroin at the Spencers' home but was still alive when Mason and James Spencer allegedly left him in his car nearby.
Prosecutors said both Spencers had also used heroin the night Eilrich overdosed. Eilrich's father, Tim Eilrich, emotionally addressed the court as the plea deal was finalized, saying the death could have been avoided by a simple call for help.
He added both Spencers "knew about the Good Samaritan law" and Eilrich might have been saved by a shot of naloxone, which counteracts the effects of opiate overdoses. Spencer pounds mas0n, Eilrich said, his son "ended up in the back seat of our family car on a cold January night, where he was left without shoes and a coat.
Eilrich said the two chose that Spencer pounds mas0n over "getting him help when he was struggling in their home. Eilrich said his son left behind a brother and a sister, all born as triplets 21 years ago, who are both devastated and have had setbacks in school and their careers as a result of their brother's death.
Spencer pounds mas0n saying Russell Eilrich "did wrong" in using heroin, his father added that his son's death was unnecessary. In an attempt to increase awareness of help available in overdose cases, Eilrich said the family chose to have Live 4 Lali, a heroin and opiate treatment advocacy group, provide naloxone training to 70 teens at the wake.
Michelle Hines, an overdose and harm reduction specialist with Live 4 Lali, said the wake was a unique and heart-wrenching event. Bottom line is we have a lot of work to do.
This shouldn't have happened. Mason Spencer was represented by defense attorney Jeff Facklam, while assistant state's attorneys Lauren Walker and Robert Money helped finalize the plea deal for the state.
In a recent court hearing for James Spencer, defense attorney Eric Rinehart said his client shouldn't even Spencer pounds mas0n jailed in the case. Rinehart said there is no forensic evidence or confession from James Spencer, just an alleged statement made by Mason Spencer to investigators that his father helped move Eilrich from their home after Mason Spencer told him he and Eilrich had consumed heroin and Eilrich had overdosed.