BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (STMW) — Anita “Jeanie” Kustok seemed uncomfortable at a family gathering when conversation shifted to her son, former Northwestern University quarterback Zak Kustok, firing a gun for the first time during a March 2010 visit to Minnesota.
“We mentioned Zak had fired a gun for the first time,” Nicole Kustok, Zak’s wife, testified Wednesday during the murder trial of her father-in-law, Allan Kustok. “[Jeanie Kustok] seemed uncomfortable, and I remember wanting to move the conversation along.”
Family members have testified during the trial at the Bridgeview courthouse that Jeanie Kustok didn’t own a gun and never discussed a fear of home invaders. Those comments contradict statements Allan Kustok allegedly made to police, claiming he bought his wife a .357 Magnum revolver to make her feel safe at home.
Nicole Kustok, in fact, testified that it was Allan Kustok who furthered the conversation about weapons, which took place roughly six months before his wife died from a single gunshot wound at their home, recalling that he shot a BB gun as a child.
Jeanie Kustok, meanwhile, remained silent and appeared uneasy with the discussion, Nicole Kustok said.
In court proceedings over the past week, Allan Kustok’s defense attorneys have taken pains to portray Jeanie Kustok as a paranoid wreck who was terrified that someone would invade the couple’s alarm-protected Orland Park home.
On Sept. 29, 2010, the day she died, Jeanie Kustok woke Allan Kustok and asked him to investigate a noise she thought she had heard, Allan Kustok told detectives.
Kustok said he checked the house and went back to sleep — only to be jarred awake by a loud explosion, he told police. Jeanie Kustok, he claimed, had been shot and was clutching to her chest the revolver he gave her as a present.
Several family members have said in court that if Jeanie Kustok was terrified of home invaders, as the defense has suggested, it was news to them.
“[Jeanie Kustok] never mentioned that, or burglaries — and I believe she would have,” Nicole Kustok said. “She never expressed fear to me.”
While she was on the stand, Nicole Kustok, who has two children with Zak Kustok, gushed about her former mother-in-law, describing Jeanie Kustok as a devoutly religious woman who was enthused to be a grandmother.
“I feel over-the-top saying this,” Nicole Kustok testified. “But she was so genuine, you couldn’t help be inspired by her general optimism.”
During cross-examination, defense attorney Rick Beuke pointed out that Jeanie Kustok was not the only parent dedicated to the family.
Beuke referenced a lawsuit filed by Allan Kustok that Beuke said would free Zak Kustok from rules preventing him from taking the field for the Northwestern University Wildcats.
“Mr. Kustok went down and sat at that [hearing] for days at a time, to try to give his son a chance to play football for Northwestern,” Beuke said.
“Al is very litigious,” Nicole Kustok said of her father-in-law.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)