Zion man sentenced to 28 years in Algonquin heroin overdose death plans appeal

James F. Linder

WOODSTOCK – A Zion man sentenced to 28 years in prison on a drug-induced homicide charge in connection with an Algonquin woman’s heroin overdose death has taken the first steps to appeal his case.

James F. Linder’s attorney, Hank Sugden, filed a notice of appeal Thursday on behalf of his client. Sugden said Linder has been in McHenry County Jail custody for the past 2½ years and does not have the funds to hire an appellate attorney. Judge Sharon Prather appointed an appellate public defender.

Linder, 37, was sentenced Feb. 24 on the Class X felony after a jury found him guilty of selling more than one gram of heroin to Cody N. Hillier on Jan. 30, 2015, in Zion. Hillier and his then-girlfriend, Danielle Barzyk, 21, used the drugs more than once and returned to Algonquin, where they both then lived.

Barzyk told Hillier she was having trouble breathing just before 1 a.m. and needed medical attention. The two went to the Algonquin Police Department and called 911 after they realized the building was closed. When police and emergency responders arrived, they asked Hillier if Barzyk had taken anything, and he did not tell them she had taken drugs until later.

Barzyk was taken to Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, where she died.

Linder was arrested one day after Barzyk’s death, when Hillier agreed to work with the North Central Narcotics Task Force and bought more heroin from Linder in a police-controlled sting buy at a Walmart in Zion. Linder was pulled over after the alleged drug deal, and officers found the money Hillier was given to buy the drugs, Linder’s wallet, a cellphone and additional cash.

Before Linder’s sentencing hearing in February, Sugden had asked for a new trial. He said the case should have been tried in Lake County because the drugs were bought and some of the drugs were used in that county. Prather denied the motion and said the case could be tried in McHenry County because drugs were consumed there and that’s where Hillier and Barzyk returned the evening of Barzyk’s death.

Sugden also previously argued in 2015 that the case should be moved out of McHenry County because there were too few blacks in the area for Linder to be tried by a jury of his peers. There were no black jurors on the panel during jury selection. About 1.6 percent of the McHenry County population is black, according 2015 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Linder is required to serve 75 percent of his 28-year sentence, according to Illinois law.