Lake Co. father of drowned brothers receives 16-year prison sentence

A 16-year prison sentence was handed Wednesday to a northwest Indiana man who pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury in the drownings of his two sons.

Levi Patillo, 4, and Evan Patillo, 2, were unresponsive when two fishermen pulled them from the Kankakee River near the Illinois-Indiana state line on Aug. 21, 2018, according to prosecutors. Their father, Eric Patillo, 37, told a witness that he was high on heroin while at the river with his sons.

Patillo’s sentence was handed down by Lake County Judge Samuel Cappas. His May plea agreement called for a sentence of three to eight years on each count. Cappas gave him credit for about three years already served while awaiting a resolution of his case.

Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Johnsen noted Patillo was on probation for a drug crime in Newton County when the boys died. He asked for maximum sentences of eight years on each count, to be served consecutively.

Patillo told the court he was deeply sorry and understood his actions caused a lot of pain to many people. He said he shared his story with others in the Lake County Jail to warn them of the perils of drug addiction. He added he hopes to continue sharing his story as he moves forward.

Cappas said he would consider a sentence modification for Patillo if he successfully completes an order that he participate in the Indiana Department of Correction’s Purposeful Incarceration program for inmates struggling with addiction.

Cappas said he believed Patillo’s remorse was sincere, but he didn’t trust Patillo to responsibly handle his own rehabilitation. The judge said he crafted Patillo’s sentence to be punitive if Patillo fails at drug treatment while in prison, but to reward Patillo if he succeeds.

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