Christina Dent will offer a seldom-used argument when she stands trial for solicitation of murder for hire: a necessity defense.

Dent, 28, of Ottawa faces 20-40 years in prison with no possibility of probation if convicted of solicitation of murder for hire. Prosecutors allege she agreed on June 3 to pay a hit man (actually an undercover police officer) $7,000 to kill her estranged husband, 29-year-old Jacob Dent.

She was supposed to stand trial Monday. Thursday, however, Dent waived her right to a speedy trial and had the case moved to Dec. 7, the original trial setting.

The continuance gives public defender Tim Cappellini time to prepare a necessity defense. Essentially, Cappellini will argue that Dent had no choice but to try and have her husband killed.

"Necessity involves a choice that can only be made between two evils, other options being unavailable," according to the Trial Handbook for Illinois Lawyers.

Cappellini declared his intent to seek a necessity defense in an Oct. 5 filing, but the brief filing gave no indication of the facts or grounds Cappellini intends to cite in making his case.

Local attorneys could recall just one case in the past 30 years where a necessity defense was successfully used. Former public defender Dan Bute, now a La Salle County judge, argued necessity in the case against Kathy Kinser, who had escaped from Dwight Correctional Center.

Bute argued Kinser had endured intolerable conditions and had no choice but to break out. A jury accepted the argument and acquitted Kinser. Bute, reached by telephone Thursday, declined comment on the case, citing Illinois Supreme Court rules that bar judges from commenting on any case.

Dent is being held on $500,000 bond and needs to post $50,000 in cash to be released from La Salle County Jail.

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