Cory Gregory changed in his mother's eyes after he started hanging out with Sarah Kolb.
Teresa Gregory testified Monday at his sentencing hearing that in grade school her son was a fun-loving, good student.
It wasn't without a few tears that she described who her son was before he had even heard of Adrianne Reynolds, a 16-year-old East Moline girl he admitted to helping to kill.
He went to Moline High School, but didn't like mainstream school. He chose an alternative school and ended up at the Black Hawk Outreach Center.
That's where he met Ms. Kolb, who, about a year after their meeting, became a co-defendant in the murder. Prosecutors say Ms. Reynolds was killed on Jan. 21, 2005, because of problems between Ms. Kolb and Ms. Reynolds.
In Rock Island County Circuit Court Monday, Mr. Gregory was said to have helped kill Ms. Reynolds to show his loyalty to Ms. Kolb.
"He felt sorry for kids with troubles," Ms. Gregory said, alluding to her son's friendship with Ms. Kolb. After the two began hanging out, "his personality changed."
He began withdrawing from his other friends, quit dating and going to church. "He'd just say Sarah was his best friend," Ms. Gregory said. "Whatever Sarah wanted to do, they always went and did."
Anytime she interacted with Ms. Kolb, Ms. Gregory found her quiet, but polite. It was the same way other parents described Mr. Gregory. Polite and respectful with baggy clothes.
Ellie Lopez, of Moline, the mother of one of Mr. Gregory's friends from Moline High School, told reporters after Ms. Reynolds' murder she remembered Mr. Gregory as "respectful."
"He was a good kid, respectful, polite," she said. "He would come over. If my daughter wasn't home, he would sit and have something to eat. He was respectful to me, respectful to my daughter."
Things appeared fine between Mr. Gregory and Ms. Kolb for a while, Ms. Gregory said. Then, her son was going to get a truck for a present.
"She said he wouldn't need her anymore because he had his own vehicle," Ms. Gregory said. "She wanted him to do exactly what she wanted to do."
Then Ms. Gregory learned her son was "experimenting" with drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. Ms. Gregory said she talked to him about it, but didn't say much else about it.
Then, in January 2005, he was charged with murder. Mr. Gregory wasn't even a violent person, Ms. Gregory said.
"That's why this came as such a shock because he was never violent before," she said. "Normally when he would get mad, he would just go for a long walk."
But a different person was described by Ms. Kolb during her trial in Rock Island County last November. She portrayed Mr. Gregory as a commanding, methodical person who yelled, "She's not one of us," as he killed Ms. Reynolds.
Ms. Kolb testified that after the murder, Mr. Gregory threatened to kill Ms. Kolb, her family and her cats.
Mr. Gregory, unlike Ms. Kolb, admitted his involvement in the murder, although not his full extent. His mother knew her son knew what he was doing. "Cory knew right from wrong," she said. "He had a choice, and he made the wrong choice."
Before sentencing Mr. Gregory to 45 years in prison for Ms. Reynolds' death, Judge Walter Braud said he empathized with Ms. Gregory. He has children, too.
"They wander off from us," the judge said.
Rock island, IL Details
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