Opening statements expected Thursday in a trial against a man accused of killing his wife three-and-a-half years ago were delayed by at least a day because a defense attorney slipped on ice outside the courthouse.
Attorney Rick 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.
Seven women, five men and three alternate jurors were gathered in the Bridgeview courtroom to hear the case against Allan Kustok. Prosecutors say the 63-year-old killed his wife with a .357-caliber revolver he'd given her several weeks earlier for their 34th wedding anniversary.
Anita "Jeanie" Kustok was a teacher at Central Elementary School in Riverside and the mother of former Northwestern University quarterback Zak Kustok and sports journalist Sarah Kustok (Disclosure: Sarah Kustok is a former fill-in sports reporter for NBC Chicago).
Crime scene reconstructionist Rod Englert cast doubt Wednesday on the widower's explanation that his wife shot herself on the morning of Sept. 29, 2010.
- Sept. 2010: Mom Murdered by Husband, Cops Say
- Oct. 2010: Kids, Family Friend Offer Unwavering Support for Accused Wife Killer
- Nov. 2010: Kustok Pleads Not Guilty to Wife's Murder
Kustok told investigators he found his wife with her arms folder over her body and the revolver in her right hand. But 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 that Englert, in conducting the recreations, set up scenarios that buttressed the prosecution’s theory of Anita’s death.
Englert said "we tried everything" to test various scenarios.
Morask said Anita wanted the gun for protection because her husband frequently traveled on business.
Sarah and Zak Kustok have both been subpoenaed and may take the stand in the father's defense.
"In the image of their mother, Jeanie, Sarah and Zak are going to stand behind their father throughout the course of his ordeal, and will stand by with him until the end," the pair said in a joint 2010 statement.
Zak is a former star quarterback at Sandburg High School and Northwestern University. Sarah currently works for the Brooklyn Nets and starred in basketball and volleyball at Sandburg and was a top basketball player for DePaul University.
The prosecution has indicated that it plans to call as witnesses several women whom it contends had extramarital affairs with Kustok as it tries to show that he was unhappy in his marriage and wanted a divorce.