EDWARDSVILLE — The mother of murder victim Courtney Coats, 30, of Alton nearly collapsed in tears Monday after she lashed out at the “evil monster” who was sentenced to 65 years in prison for Coats’ death and dismemberment.
Patrick A. Chase, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to a count of first-degree murder and dismemberment of a human body, but the victim’s mother, Elizabeth Kovach, was allowed to take the stand to express the pain her daughter’s death has caused her.
“She was my life, my world, my everything,” Kovach said. “She had beautiful eyes, a sweet smile and a loving heart.
“Not only have you taken the life of my only child, you have robbed me of the most important role a person could have: That of a mother,” Kovach said.
She said Chase gave in to “uncontrollable rage” after months of physical and psychological abuse of Coats. She said that what was “particularly evil” was that Chase lied and tried to act innocent for 27 days when Coats went missing all while knowing that he had slit her throat, dismembered her body, placed the remains in a trash bag and dumped them in the Illinois River.
“I hope you are beaten down, scared and fear for your life. God damn your soul to burn in hell,” she said to Chase.
Kovach said she fears retaliation, but not for her own life, but for others connected to the victim. She said she is ready to die in her time.
“Courtney, Mommy loves you, and I will see you soon,” she said.
Coats was missing for 27 days starting Nov. 13. Her remains were found along a bank of the Illinois River in Greene County after police interviewed Chase who gave details of the incident.
The 65-year sentence was a result of a plea agreement in which the state dropped one of the first-degree murder charges and a charge of concealment of a homicidal death.
At the hearing Monday Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe said that evidence at trial would have shown that Chase was having an argument with Coats, when he pushed her, causing her to fall and hit her head on a piece of furniture. From there, the details of the murder were described.
Uhe told Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli that the evidence would have shown that Chase eventually gave a recorded interview in which he admitted his crimes and gave details that would have implicated him.
Chase also cried during the proceedings and rocked back and forth as he stood in front of the judge. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Neil Hawkins, said Chase had been examined by a psychologist and found fit to stand trial.
He said the plea agreement includes a recommendation for psychiatric treatment during his prison term.
Chase said something inaudible to Kovach as she was walking past him on her way from the witness stand.
“You can’t, Patrick,” she said to him.
Family members, police and Uhe spent several minutes after the hearing embracing and shedding tears. The courtroom was silent.
Uhe issued a written statement after the hearing.
“I want to commend the Alton Police Department and, specifically Lt. Scott Golike and Sgt. Jerry Cooley. Under their leadership and direction the Investigations Division worked tirelessly for, not just days, but weeks in order to uncover the awful truth about the last moments of Courtney’s life.
It is because of their dedication to this case that justice could be brought to Courtney Coats and her family today, and we all hope that this plea will give the family some measure of peace,” Uhe said.
Kovach said she was satisfied with the 65-year sentence.
Golike said the officers appreciate Uhe’s efforts in the case.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family,” he said.
Sanford J. Schmidt can be reached at 618-208-6449 or Twitter @SanfordSan.