A Springfield woman who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and admitted to stabbing her girlfriend 39 times in a rage as the girlfriend tried to leave the relationship two years ago was sentenced to 28 years in prison Friday.
Circuit Court Judge John "Mo" Madonia issued the sentence against Emmaline Osborne, 26, who cried repeatedly during the three-hour sentencing hearing and apologized to the family of her victim, Amanda Kern, 22.
"I'm sorry to the whole family because I know you all trusted me, and I broke that trust," Osborne said as friends and relatives from both families dabbed away tears in the courtroom audience.
The former nursing home kitchen worker was arrested at the scene of the murder May 10, 2016, in the kitchen of a house where the couple lived in the 1500 block of East Lawrence Avenue. Kern was brought to HSHS St. John's Hospital, where she died from the stab wounds.
Madonia said from the bench that he knew the sentence -- which Osborne must serve 100 percent of, taking into account 823 days already served -- wouldn't satisfy the family of Kern. The Kern family requested a life sentence for Osborne.
Sangamon County State's Attorney John Milhiser had asked for a 35-year sentence, while Osborne's attorney, assistant public defender Lindsay Evans, asked for 20 years, the minimum allowable sentence.
Madonia said the prison term he imposed was more than the minimum because the court needs to send a message that domestic violence is unacceptable.
But he said he tempered the sentence somewhat because Osborne was a victim of domestic violence herself at the hands of an alcoholic mother.
The judge also noted that Osborne had no prior criminal record and was diagnosed after the fact with depression and borderline personality disorder.
Madonia said he wished the Illinois General Assembly allowed him to lengthen a sentence when a murder is committed as an act of domestic violence.
Kern's mother, Denise Kern, 49, of New Lenox, testified she wished her daughter died as a result of a heroin overdose after the many years Amanda struggled with drug addiction.
"At least it would have been a quiet, peaceful departure," Denise Kern said.
The way her daughter died gives her frequent nightmares, Denise Kern said, looking at Osborne, with whom Amanda Kern had a seven-month relationship.
"I envision the last moments of torture my daughter endured at the hands of you," Kern said. "Thirty-nine times? This was not a snap decision. You clearly wanted her dead. You took my life, as well."
Amanda Kern's sister, Alyssa, 19, took the stand to say her sister's death was "gruesome and unnecessary," and that Amanda was "butchered" as part of a premeditated act.
"It takes a long time to count to 39," Alyssa Kern said. "My sister was alive the whole time."
Denise Kern said her daughter was a "bright, bubbly, happy child" who realized she was a lesbian during adolescence and began using marijuana and other drugs.
Amanda Kern graduated to heroin during high school, and her family -- living in a "modest home with two loving parents" -- placed her in drug-treatment programs several times, her mother said.
"Her life mattered, and it continued to matter ... drug use or not," Denise Kern said.
Osborne, taking the unusual step of testifying at her sentencing, said she attended Springfield elementary and secondary schools and met Amanda Kern online.
Amanda was "smart and funny," and the two both shared an affection for tattoos, Osborne said. Osborne has tattoos on her arms and neck. Amanda Kern's mother said her daughter wanted to be a tattoo artist someday.
The couple lived with Kern's family in New Lenox, in the Chicago area, for a month but moved back to Springfield when neither could find work there, Osborne said.
Kern's heroin use continued all that time, Osborn said. Osborne said she sometimes bought heroin for Kern to help Kern avoid the traumatic symptoms of withdrawal. Osborne said she sometimes used heroin with her girlfriend.
Earlier in 2016, Osborne said, she paid for Kern to enter Gateway Foundation's Springfield treatment center, but Kern left inpatient treatment early, after a few weeks, and relapsed immediately.
The day before Kern's death, the couple were arguing about money, and Kern said she wanted to break up, according to Osborne. The next morning, Osborne went to work and then returned home after an hour or two to talk with Kern, who was employed.
"I was heartbroken and still loved her," Osborne said.
As Kern started to walk out of the house, Osborne said she put her hand on the door to close it. The two began a physical altercation, and Osborne said she told Kern: "You can't leave. We have to talk about this."
After Kern spit in Osborne's face, Osborn said while on the stand: "It just went blank. It was really a 'snap' moment. It just happened. I'm sorry. I didn't have a plan to hurt Amanda. ... I was told I stabbed her. I didn't know I stabbed her 39 times. I don't know how that could happen. I don't recall any of it."
Osborn said that before she was arrested, she was unwilling to take medicine for depression because she didn't think she needed it.
Milhiser said the owner of the house where the couple was living saw Osborne stabbing Kern while Kern was immobile on the kitchen floor. The owner told police he saw Osborne stand over Kern's bleeding body and say: "You (expletive) (expletive). This is what you do to me."
On cross-examination, Osborne told Milhiser she didn't remember telling Springfield police detective Doug Sapetti shortly after the incident that she stabbed Kern mostly in the stomach and torso with a pocket knife she was carrying.
Osborne said she didn't recall telling police that Kern, after being stabbed several times, "laid down, and it was just relief" or that she was relieved she and Kern weren't arguing anymore.
Dr. Terry Killian, a forensic psychiatrist hired by the public defender's office, said he didn't believe Osborne's loss of memory was an attempt to avoid responsibility. Killian called the amnesia a "red out."
"People get into an intense anger, and they don't remember what they have done, even though they don't deny doing a crime," he said.
Killian said he didn't believe the crime was premeditated or done with the intention of getting away with escaping punishment. He cited the unusual number of stab wounds and the fact that Osborne didn't try to flee.
Milhiser said Osborne's conduct in the days leading up to the crime indicated planning and criminal intent. He introduced exhibits from Osborne's Facebook page containing references to spattered blood, resentment about infidelity and violence against a loved one with a butterfly knife.
Milhiser also introduced a verified text message from the morning of the murder in which Osborne apparently was telling a friend that she needed to get a gun. Osborne testified that she wasn't interested in getting a gun to harm Kern.