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UPDATED 10/26/11 8:53 a.m.
WHEATON, Ill. (CBS) — A 47-year-old Glendale Heights man on trial for allegedly suffocating his father with a pillow said he did it because the ailing, elderly man asked him to do so.
But as WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, DuPage County prosecutors say George M. Panos was tired of caring for his ailing father and offered a teenage acquaintance $50 to smother the 78-year-old man. When the teen refused, prosecutors claimed, Panos did the job himself.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
In a police interview room, Panos said his father, George J. Panos, wanted to be killed and didn’t want to be a burden anymore.
The Daily Herald reports the Panos’ attorneys said his confession was false and without evidence, and a medical examiner acknowledged that without the taped confession, he would likely have attributed the death to natural causes.
In opening statements earlier Tuesday, DuPage County assistant state’s attorney Bernie Murray told jurors He suffocated his father with a pillow as the older man slept in the Glendale Heights home they shared.
Questioned by police within hours of the Jan. 25, 2009, death, Panos coldly described his deceased father as “the dead guy” and “the pain in the ass,” Murray said.
“He was relieved of the burden of caring for his father,” Murray said of Panos, who faces up to 60 years in prison if he’s convicted of first-degree murder.
Panos also hoped to cash in a $10,000 life insurance policy after George J. Panos died, Murray said. “He wanted to use it to fix up and sell the house, and move on with his life,” Murray said.
A 19-year-old friend who was also living in the house testified Panos earlier that night had “cracked jokes” about suffocating his father, then asked if he would do it.
“He said, ‘I’ll give you $50 bucks to put a pillow on the old man’s face’,” said Andrew Schifflegern, who was a friend of Panos’ nephew.
Schifflegern said Panos had been drinking “pretty heavily” that evening before talking about smothering his father.
Defense attorneys contend Panos didn’t kill his father, whom he was caring for as the older man struggled with emphysema, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
His father wasn’t even murdered, but died from the diseases that had left him housebound and nearly bedridden, Assistant Public Defender Kristin Nevdal said.
“There was not a single piece of medical evidence to show suffocation or that it was a homicide,” Nevdal said.
Panos himself called 911 when he awoke during the night and discovered his father wasn’t breathing, she said.
She contended Panos was drunk and “talking nonsense” when he talked about smothering his father and when he was interviewed by police, she argued.
Investigators coerced him into admitting he suffocated him, she said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.