Nancy Rish 2019 photo

Nancy Rish

KANKAKEE — A judge denied a motion to order a new sentence hearing for Nancy Rish for her role in the 1987 killing of Kankakee businessman Stephen A. Small.

On Friday, Judge Michael Sabol said there was nothing conclusive that would change the original sentence imposed by the trial judge.

“We just keep going. That’s all,” Chicago attorney Margaret Byrne said to Rish’s family and friends after the hearing at the Kankakee County Courthouse.

Byrne and Chicago’s Steven Becker represent the 57-year-old Rish, who has spent nearly 32 years in prison. Assistant Illinois Attorney General Erin O’Connell represented the state.

“It’s just prejudicial in Kankakee [County],” Rish’s sister, Lori Guimond said, wiping tears from her eyes.

Rish was found guilty of kidnapping and murder and sentenced to life in prison as an accomplice with her then-boyfriend Danny Edwards. He was convicted and sentenced to death for kidnapping and murder. His sentence was commuted to life when the death penalty was abolished by then-Gov. George Ryan.

Rish has maintained she did not know what Edwards was doing and she just drove him to different places.

Byrne said the next move is to again file for clemency from the governor. A clemency bid in 2014 was denied.

“Clemency deals with mercy not legal rules,” Byrne said.

That petition will be filed in a couple of months, Byrne said.

Guimond said they will talk about what the next step is at a later date.

According to court documents, Rish was not arguing her murder conviction but rather her life sentence should be reduced.

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