Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Woman charged with exploiting elderly man asks court to examine her mental state

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – A woman accused of financially exploiting an elderly man wants an expert to examine whether she’s fit to stand trial.

According to a motion for fitness examination filed by Assistant Public Defender Margie O’Connor, her client, 49-year-old Anita White, has symptoms of depression that are interfering with her ability to make decisions about her case and to assist in her own defense.

“The defendant has signs of severe depression exhibited by constant crying and a flat affect,” O’Connor’s motion states. “She’s exhibiting inability to make decisions when meeting with her attorney due to depression. When the defense attorney attempts to speak to the defendant, she can’t stop crying and can’t focus on serious issues related to her case.”

The motion says White is a victim of a serious crime and may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

White is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person and theft. The state alleges that between March 1, 2014 and May 1, 2017, she was in the position of trust with 77-year-old Thomas Hillenburg and knowingly, by deception, took control of his property, including money, with a value greater than $5,000 but less than $50,000. Prosecutors say that between April 1, 2014 and April 7, 2017 she stole more than $10,000 but less than $100,000 from him.

Hillenburg’s family told The Times in a previous report that he and White were in a dating relationship that eventually led to a brief marriage when the alleged theft took place. The marriage was later dissolved when a judge ruled Hillenburg, who had been diagnosed with dementia, was not of sound mind when the wedding took place. Hillenburg died in 2018.

Financial exploitation of an elderly person and theft are Class 2 felonies punishable by three to seven years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

White has pleaded not guilty. She rejected a plea agreement earlier this year and is due back in court Thursday for a status hearing.

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