Defense Attorney’s Injury Delays Opening Statements In Kustok Murder Trial
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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (STMW) – Opening statements scheduled for Thursday morning in Allan Kustok’s murder trial have been postponed until Friday after defense attorney Rick Beuke slipped on ice outside the courthouse.
Beuke excused himself as Judge John Hynes opened court. He could be seen bleeding down his arm from a cut on his elbow, and was taken to a hospital for treatment. With court in recess, Hynes told jurors he didn’t think Beuke’s injury was serious. Discussion about witnesses was expected to take place after the recess.
Kustok is charged with murdering his wife, Anita “Jeanie” Kustok, in their Orland Park home on Sept. 29, 2010.
A crime scene reconstructionist had cast doubt Wednesday on Allan Kustok’s explanation of how his wife died, saying it was unlikely she could have shot herself with a revolver that her husband gave her for their 34th wedding anniversary.
Rod Englert said he based his conclusion in part on two re-creations of the shooting in the master bedroom of the Kustok home.
Hynes also ruled that Englert’s testimony will be allowed.
Prosecutors say Kustok, 63, fired a single shot at his wife’s head while she slept.
Kustok told police that he awoke to a gunshot and found her lying dead on her back with her hands across her chest, the gun in her right hand. He said he was overcome with grief and briefly considered killing himself with the gun but fired its remaining bullets into an armoire to avoid committing suicide.
After shooting his wife, Kustok waited about 90 minutes before he rolled her body up in a robe and bedsheets, and drove to Palos Community Hospital, according to police.
Englert’s testimony included graphic photos of Anita’s body, which the couple’s daughter, Sarah, avoided looking at, instead staring at the ceiling. Crime scene and autopsy photos were displayed on laptop computers on the lawyers’ desks as well as on a large TV in the middle of the courtroom.
Englert, a former homicide detective in Portland, Ore., said he concluded that Kustok likely stood next to the bed and pointed the revolver at his wife’s left cheek. He based his conclusion in part on blood spatters on the couple’s bed and pillows, and on Kustok’s clothing.
Based on the bullet’s path, Englert said it was not possible for Anita to have held the gun in her right hand and shoot herself on the left side of her face. He said it was possible she could have used both hands to fire the weapon but would have had to use both thumbs to push back on the trigger.
Even if she had shot herself, Englert said it was “not probable” that Anita would have died with the gun still in her hand and her arms across her chest, describing that as a “very unusual, abnormal position.”
Laura Morask, one of Kustok’s attorneys, suggested Englert, in conducting the re-creations, set up scenarios that buttressed the prosecution’s theory of Anita’s death.
Englert said “we tried everything” to test various scenarios.
Sarah Kustok and her brother, Zak, have been subpoenaed to testify in their father’s trial. Zak is a former star quarterback at Sandburg High School and Northwestern. Sarah is a sportscaster in New York who starred in basketball and volleyball at Sandburg, and was a top basketball player for DePaul.
The prosecution has indicated it plans to call as witnesses several women whom it contends had extramarital affairs with Kustok, as it tries to show he was unhappy in his marriage and wanted a divorce.