This week’s sentencing of convicted child pornographer and former state Rep. Keith Farnham has been moved to Elgin — much closer to the ailing defendant’s home.
Farnham’s attorney, Terry Ekl, told U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang on Monday that his conversations with the terminally ill Farnham lately have to be “very short,” lest the 67-year-old Democrat lose concentration. His ability to understand the issues that might come up at his sentencing hearing is “problematic,” Ekl said.
Ekl says Farnham is taking morphine and Ativan, which leave him disorientated, dizzy and confused and therefore unable to participate in court proceedings.
The government joined in a conference call with Ekl and Farnham’s nurse on Thursday. It says there’s no evidence that Farnham, who has carried an oxygen tank into previous hearings, is “legally incompetent” to be sentenced.
But Chang said he saw no record that Farnham had claimed incompetence in other aspects of his life, so the judge ruled the sentencing should proceed Thursday.
Later Monday, it was determined that the sentencing hearing could be held at the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, in Elgin. It is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Farnham faces a minimum of five years behind bars for sharing child porn online with other pedophiles.
Ekl says Farnham has terminal pulmonary fibrosis, bladder cancer and hepatitis C and is expected to die within four months. He filed court papers Friday asking Chang to postpone Farnham’s sentencing for six months — and to let Farnham stay at his home, under electronic monitoring, until he dies.
A doctor hired by Farnham, Karla Hudson, says Farnham won’t get the hospice care he needs in prison. Prison hospice beds are limited, and even if Farnham gets one, he will likely be denied the amount of painkillers he needs and will be kept from his family, Hudson wrote in a letter to the judge.
Farnham pleaded guilty in December, admitting he kept more than 2,700 illegal photos and videos on his work and home computers.
Prosecutors recently revealed that they intend to introduce a statement at Farnham’s sentencing by a woman who says she was sexually abused by Farnham when she was a minor.
Farnham denies that. And Ekl has recently filed court papers stating that Farnham himself was sexually abused repeatedly when he was a boy.
The judge said Monday he would consider arguments by both sides to determine whether the woman’s allegation is credible, and therefore whether she can make a statement at Farnham’s sentencing.
Contributing: Kim Janssen