Mokena woman pleads guilty to murder of her mother
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org July 25, 2013 1:40PM
Gaye E. Wern | Photo courtesy of Will County Sheriff's office
Updated: August 27, 2013 6:27AM
A Mokena woman who stabbed her mother to death faces from four to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in Will County court, authorities said.
Gaye Wern, 61, stabbed her 89-year-old mother, Tresa McCauley, to death on Feb. 15, 2010 in McCauley’s condo in the 19500 block of 116th Avenue. She went to the Mokena police station to confess hours after the stabbing. Police found her mother’s body in a bathtub with multiple stab wounds to her torso.
Wern, who was divorced and had a history of mental illness, had been living with her mother for about six months and had no prior criminal history, officials said at the time.
“This is a very significant sentence, given her history,” Will County state’s attorney’s spokesman Chuck Pelkie said. “It also guarantees she will get the (mental health) help she needs.”
An expert witness for the defense said Wern was legally insane, while experts for the prosecution determined that she suffered from mental illness and depression, but was not insane and was able to stand trial, Pelkie said.
Wern was taken into custody after Thursday’s court appearance, he said. She is to be sentenced by a judge on July 30.
Wern’s attorney, Frank Cservenyak, said the sentencing range is “fair” given the circumstances.
“This is a horribly sad situation,” he said.
Wern was under the “stress and strain” of taking care of her mother, who was recovering from a broken leg, he said.
“She spent seven nights in the hospital with her mother. This is totally out of character for her. She never had a temper. She was always the first to help others,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate combination of events. She’s not evil. She’s not bad. She just snapped.”
Wern had been out on bond for 31/2 years without so much as a speeding ticket, he said.