PEKIN  — A suburban Chicago attorney must appear in a Tazewell County courtroom later this month to represent his client charged with drug-induced homicide, a judge ordered Thursday.

Hopefully for his sake, Bruce Cowan can make it.

Cowan, whose office is listed in Morton Grove, failed to appear Thursday on behalf of Tayrod Fields of Washington, who’s charged with causing the heroin overdose death in August 2017 of Joseph Amero, 25, of Pekin.

A prosecutor told Circuit Judge Michael Risinger that Cowan had passed on the message to an area police investigator that he had recently suffered “severe injuries” in a vehicle accident.

He cited injuries from another accident in September for failing to appear to represent Fields that month and through the fall, the prosecutor said. She had no details of either accident.

Risinger told Fields it’s not fair for him to “sit on ice forever” in jail while his case languishes.

He scheduled Fields’ next court date for Dec. 20, with the requirement that Cowan attend it. Risinger said he may appoint a public defender for Fields until Cowan can return to it. Cowan could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Fields, 24, was charged last May with the death of Amero on Aug. 25, 2017, in Amero’s residence on North Eighth Street. An autopsy revealed Amero died from an overdose of heroin mixed with the pain-killing drug fentanyl, an often-fatal combination.

Amero’s cellphone revealed multiple calls and texts between him and Fields the day of his death, a prosecutor’s court affidavit stated.

Last January, Fields told an investigator he had delivered heroin to Amero numerous times, including on the night Amero died. He said he obtained the fatal dose from the Taft Homes housing complex in Peoria, the affidavit stated.

Fields faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.