SYCAMORE – Nicole Benson was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday, moments after the father of the friend who died after using the drugs she gave her wished her peace.
Benson, 22, of the 100 block of East Pine Street in Somonauk, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the March 11, 2013, death of Kelsey McGuire, 19, of Leland. Benson stared straight ahead Monday as McGuire's parents read short statements in court.
"I don't hold any ill will or spite toward you for the role you played in Kelsey's death," Patrick McGuire, Kelsey McGuire's father, said in court Monday. "My prayers go out to you and your family for all that has come to you. I wish you peace, as you suffer as well."
Authorities said Benson gave McGuire, her friend, lethal amounts of hydrocodone and Xanax, and McGuire did not wake up after spending the night at Benson's house. Hydrocodone is an opiate painkiller, while Xanax commonly is used to treat panic and anxiety disorders.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors reduced the original drug-induced homicide charge to involuntary manslaughter, and Benson will receive credit for the 378 days she spent in jail while the case was pending.
McGuire's parents described her as a fun-loving free spirit who was putting herself through Waubonsee Community College and dreamed of working with children and animals. Her mother, Kim Woodraska, said a grief care group at her church has been helping her get over the nightmares she's been having.
"I keep seeing Kelsey laying on the table," Woodraska said, "and all I want is for her to get up and come home."