Man charged in baby's death to get mental exam

Andy Kravetz

The attorney for a Peoria man charged with the murder of his 5-month-old son obtained permission to have his client examined by a mental-health expert.

William Loeffel, who represents James Sargent, wants to determine if Sargent is fit to stand trial or if he was insane at the time of the baby’s death.

Sargent, 23, and the boy’s mother, Tracy Hermann, 21, both of 3012 W. Proctor St., were charged in February with first-degree murder for the death of their son, Benjamin Sargent.

The boy died after going without food or water for eight days in February. He was found in his car seat, wearing the snowsuit he had on when he was dropped off at the house.

In court motions, Loeffel said his client appears to be living in a "fantasy world" and has not been able to help him prepare for the case. Additionally, there are 15 years worth of mental-health records that haven’t been released in open court but apparently detail years of treatment.

Loeffel also hinted he might file a motion to suppress any statements made by Sargent due to his emotional state after the baby’s death.

Peoria County Circuit Judge James Shadid granted a request to push the trial date for the couple from Aug. 4 to Nov. 17.

In June, Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons opted not to seek the death penalty for the two, citing the mental-health issues and that both sides appear to be blaming each other for the infant’s death, which would require the prosecutor to cut a deal with one in order to use testimony against the other.

If convicted, both Hermann and Sargent face up to 100 years in prison.

Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or