Joliet woman reflects on case after son’s death
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org November 13, 2012 7:24PM
Updated: December 15, 2012 6:29AM
JOLIET — Lois McCann is glad that sentencing now is complete for two men after the death of her developmentally disabled son.
Last week in downstate Charleston, Marquis Harmon was sentenced to three years in prison in the death of Paul McCann, 42, formerly of Joliet.
Harmon is a former employee of a group home in Charleston, where Paul was a resident. In August, Harmon pleaded guilty to criminal neglect of a person with a disability and obstructing justice.
Harmon was accused of failing to intervene to stop a fellow employee from beating Paul McCann so severely that he died four days later in January 2011.
In July 2012, Harmon’s co-defendant, Keyun Newble, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
On Tuesday, Lois McCann said she was glad the sentencing was done.
“Paul was a gentle soul, and in many ways he spoke as a child would speak. He was innocent. He didn’t deserve to be beaten. He didn’t deserve the terrible death that he had,” Lois said.
“How he must have suffered that first night after he was beaten. I think of that so much,” Lois said, breaking down in tears in her living room in Joliet.
At Newble’s trial in Coles County, Lois submitted a victim impact statement, part of which read: “I consider Paul a martyr for the plight of those disabled who cannot speak for or defend themselves.”
Paul McCann’s life indeed made a difference. Last year, Lois testified in Springfield, seeking to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. Today, “Paul’s Law” tightens restrictions on group homes and the people they hire.
The Legislature passed the bill in 2011, and Gov. Pat Quinn signed it into law.
Lois said she had talked to a nun who had instructed her in 1946, during her days at St. Francis Academy in Joliet.
“She taught me many, many years ago,” Lois said. “When she heard about Paul, she said, ‘Lois, Paul was a martyr.’ And that he was.”
Another nun, also a former teacher at St. Francis, comforted Lois after Paul’s death.
“She said, ‘He was a martyr for the cause.’” Lois said.
Paul McCann was born March 9, 1968. He was the fourth and youngest child of Edward and Lois McCann of Joliet.
Paul was in special education during his time at Taft School, Hufford Junior High School and Joliet Central High School, his mother said.
He was a 1989 graduate of Joliet Township High School.
Contribuing: The Associated Press