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Slain DeKalb County prosecutor's legacy lives on in local advocacy programs

SYCAMORE – Former coworkers of 30-year-old Stacia Hollinshead, a Sycamore resident and mother who worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office, have spent the past nearly two years since her murder working to honor her legacy.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato said Wednesday Hollinshead’s story – gunned down by her ex-husband Ulisses Medina Espinosa, 33, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin who shot her 15 times in the head and back in front of their 5-year-old daughter in March 2019 – brought the horrors of domestic violence too close to home.

“Having this happen to Stacia and her family in our office and community is just too stark a reminder of the reality and danger of domestic violence,” Amato said. “It’s one of those things, with Stacia, you see the picture of a veteran, an attorney, a prosecutor. And you think that makes everybody invincible, all those titles. We’re just people at the end of the day, and we need each other.”

Medina Espinosa pleaded guilty Tuesday to first degree homicide and will as a result of the plea agreement get a life sentence but could be eligible for parole and community supervision. He’s scheduled for a sentence hearing April 5 at 9 a.m. at the Dodge County courthouse in Juneau, Wisconsin.

DeKalb County court records show Hollinshead had sought legal protection against him prior to her death. Her divorce from Medina Espinosa, the father of her child, became final in March 2018, but the two-year separation process included her receiving orders of protection against him for erratic and harassing behavior, and a fight over visitation rights, according to court records.

Amato said the plea is a ‘great development’ for Hollinshead’s family and the beginning of their healing process. His office continues to prioritize domestic violence cases, he said, and he likes to think Hollinshead would be prosecuting her own cases to help abuse victims by now, were she alive.

“When you have behaviors that are controlling and those become stalking behaviors, it’s a very lethal situation,” Amato said of Hollinshead’s case. “The situation with Stacia’s suffering at the hands of this person was unknown to so many people. And in coming forward, we don’t want people to suffer alone. We don’t want them to know that they can’t reach out. It’s very scary but our community, law enforcement, courthouse needs to be up to task to be able to meet those needs.”

Hollinshead was also a Northern Illinois University law school graduate and an 11-year Army veteran.

Since March 2019, Amato and his team created the Stacia Hollinshead Veterans Program, an advocacy program which helps local veterans in and out of the court system struggling with substance abuse issues, PTSD, anger or medical issues and places them in programs through the Hines VA in Maywood, offering both inpatient and outpatient care instead of jail time.

“Being able to keep Stacia’s’ memory alive while providing service to our veterans is a big deal,” Amato said. “We have a little over two dozen veterans in the program right now. It’s been a wonderful success getting these veterans, young and old, services they probably wouldn’t have taken advantage of if it wasn’t for them ending up in our criminal justice system.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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