Associate Judge Neil Schroeder handed down the sentence after prosecutors introduced a taped statement that was excluded from the trial in which Chittum was found guilty of first-degree murder, dismembering a human body and concealing a homicidal death.
On the video, Chittum is heard telling about “getting rid of the blood” holding bags for disposal of body parts and moving the body into a bathroom where co-defendant Patrick Chase ended her life by cutting her throat.
In the video, Chittum never told officers he was asleep when the murder happened. That contradicted trial testimony of Chase, who claimed his friend, Chittum, was asleep during the entire murder process.
Chittum was found guilty under the accountability theory, which holds that he helped participate in the act and was accountable for the acts of Chase, who admitted to carrying out the fatal violence.
Assistant Madison County State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe argued that Chittum deserved the same 70-year sentence as Chase received for the murder. She had argued during the trial that Chittum coached Chase in killing Coats, his then girlfriend.
“But for Brandon Chittum, this case does not happen. There is no way he was less culpable than Patrick Chase. He was the one calling the shots,” Uhe said.
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During the trial witnesses said Chittum was a member of the Outlaws motorcycle club, which had authority over The Black Pistons, Chase’s club.
Chittum made no statement on his own behalf. Uhe argued that, while Chase confessed and pleaded guilty, Chittum has never accepted responsibility.
Family members said they were torn apart by the November 2013 loss of Coats, who went missing for several weeks before her body parts were found in trash bags in the Mississippi River in Greene County.
“She was always full of life; she never knew a stranger,” said her uncle, Richard Beach. “What you did was evil, cold and heartless, She was not piece of trash to be thrown off a bridge.”
Coats’ aunt, Jody Lessman, said Chittum played the system, delaying the trial for five years.
“Every day I think about how evil, cold and heartless the crime was that Courtney endured and what these two men did to her,” Lessman said. “Not only did Brandon Chittum aid in taking her from us, he put myself and our family through complete hell while he played the system for five and a half years before going to trial.
The victim’s mother, Elizabeth, said she is happy with the outcome. Uhe said the case could never have been won had it not been for the work of the Alton Police Department.
“What started out as a missing persons investigation has finaly come to a conclusin with both murderers being brought to justice,” she said. “We hope this finally gives Courtney’s family some peace.”
She also thanked the Illinois State Police Crime Lab Crime Scene Investigation and Division of Forensic Sciences.
SOURCE: The Telegraph