A 38-year-old Rockford man, who became a convicted felon at just 16, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison Wednesday for supplying the fatal dose of drugs that killed a McHenry County man in 2017.
Jaynell Ross, also was sentenced to six years consecutively for class X felony delivery of a controlled substance, charges he pleaded guilty to in November in Winnebago County. Those charges occurred in the summer of 2017 and were part of the undercover operations associated with the investigation surrounding the death of Andrew Giblin.
Authorities say they learned through a confidential informant - who then aided in three undercover drug buys with Ross in various Rockford neighborhoods - that Ross sold Giblin the heroin and cocaine which resulted in his death July of 2017.
Giblin, 30, was found unresponsive in his family’s home in unincorporated McHenry County near Marengo.
During a heart-wrenching sentencing hearing before Judge James Cowlin, Giblin’s mom, Connie Sue Giblin, sobbed as she spoke of her love for her son known fondly to some as “Gibby” and who had unsuccessfully fought his drug and alcohol addiction for about eight years prior.
She wept as she described her son as a “gift” who was funny, shy and “very loving” and who shared her love of classic rock and Country music.
“I had him for 30 short years … not nearly long enough,” she said as his framed picture sat up on the witness stand in front of her.
She said her son had been in treatment at least four times and struggled to stay clean.
“He would do well for a period of time,” she said. “It was just something, I don’t know, he couldn’t break free.”
On July 10, 2017, she said, her son had flown back home from Georgia where he had been working and “the next day my son was gone. …. I keep telling myself this can’t be real … I wish for one more bear hug from him.”
James Collins, Ross’s ailing father who walked with a cane, repeatedly apologized to Giblin’s family who later thanked him for his “kind words.”
He said he and his wife are battling many illnesses and James Ross is needed to help care for them. Ross also is needed to help care for his one-year-old baby, also present in the courtroom, who was born while he was in county jail and whom he has never held.
Collins repeatedly said he knows life isn’t fair and spoke of Ross’ own hard aches in life including the 2015 murder of his older sister and his incarceration after being tried and convicted as an adult at the age of 16 for first-degree murder in Winnebago County.
Attorneys would not elaborate on this conviction because Ross was a juvenile at the time. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison but sentencing guidelines at the time required he serve just half the time.
After being released from prison in 2009 Ross could not find work, had mounting bills, then a newborn baby on the way which lead to him selling drugs, Collins said. He hopes when his son gets out of prison, which could be in about 11 years, he will “fly straight.”
“He didn’t mean to do this,” Collins said. “He’s gonna learn a lesson (in prison). I know he’s gonna hurt.”
Ross repeatedly apologized to the family who sat quietly in the front row. He said he thinks about Giblin every day.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” Ross said. “You probably can’t stand me, you hate my guts. … I feel terrible. All I can do is apologize and take what I got coming and move on.”
In handing down his sentence, Cowlin said Ross is a “smart,” “professional,” and “dangerous” drug dealer. He said this is not a case of drug addicts doing drugs together and one dies.
“You took advantage of an addict,” he said.
Referring to detectives’ testimony that Ross wore gloves when packaging heroin, had surveillance cameras all around his apartment and parking lot, was supplied with guns and ammunition he said “You knew what you were doing.”
Ross is required to serve 75 percent of his sentence then will be on three years mandatory supervised release.