Defense Attorneys Attack Killer's Credibility

Jacob Nodarse questioned about past drug use, lack of early statements about Johnny Borizov

Defense attorneys on Tuesday continued to attack the credibility of an admitted murderer who maintains his former friend forced him to kill.

Jacob Nodarse pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the death of Jeffrey Kramer as part of a plea deal in the case that dropped charges for the other two murders. Johnny Borizov, currently on trial in the first Chicago area camera-in-court case, is accused of persuading Nodarse to kill Kramer, his wife, Lori, and their son, Michael, 20, at the family's Darien home in 2010. 

As cross-examination of Nodarse continued, attorney Richard Kling grilled him about his admitted drug use and mental illness. He also questioned him about early statements to police that never mentioned Borizov.

"The plan, according to Mr. Borizov, was that he would be under cameras at a bar or a casino," Nodarse testified Tuesday.

"And you had no idea where he was when you were in the Kramer's house killing people, did you?" said Kling.

"I only knew what the plan was supposed to be," Nodarse answered, describing how Borizov wanted an alibi.

After the March 2010 slayings, Nodarse told jurors that Borizov also had instructions on what he should do next.

"I said that I would probably have to kill myself, and he said, word for word, I remember it very, very clearly, 'Yes, you might as well go out but go out with a bang. Have a shootout with the cops or have fun. Go on a high-speed chase,'" Nodarse said.

That never happened. Instead, Nodarse fled to Florida where he was later arrested and initially denied having anything to do with the killings.

It wasn't until later, under questioning, that he implicated Borizov.

"It was only after Detective Braun said to you, 'Johnny sold you out,' that you started talking about Johnny Borizov, right? asked Kling.

"I remember the detective telling me that," replied Nodarse. "I don't know if that's initially when I started talking about Mr. Borizov or not."

Additionally, Nodarse admitted he had hoped he could have gotten away with the crime and, if caught, used an insanity plea as his defense.

"As opposed to spending the rest of my life in prison," he said. 

"Because you didn't want to go to jail," Kling pressed.

"I'd rather be in a hospital than a prison. I think anyone would be," said Nodarse.

"Well, in fact at that particular time you'd rather be in a hospital than have a needle stuck in your arm to put you to death," said Kling.

"No, I would have taken the needle immediately," Nodarse answered.

Under questioning Friday, Kling showed Nodarse crime scene photos of each victim and asking him if he was the one who did it. Nodarse calmly looked at each photo and admitted to the crimes. 

Kling also produced the gun used in the crimes, which Nodarse held so casually on the stand that courtroom observers had to be reminded it was not loaded.

Nodarse's demeanor ranged from impatience and even laughter when a 911 tape was played, to a relaxed demeanor that prompted this exchange:

Kling: Are you bored Jake?
Nodarse: No, I am bored a lot in jail, this is kind of exciting for me.
Kling: Are you saying that your involvement in a murder trial in which you killed three people is exciting for you?
Nodarse: In the sense that every day I stare at a concrete wall for three years, it's something out of the ordinary. I am not enjoying it, but it passes the time better.

Defense attorneys argue that Nodarse carried out the shooting on his own, but DuPage County prosecutors contend that Borizov pressured Nodarse into attacking his ex-girlfriend in the midst of their bitter child custody battle.

The trial is the first in the Chicago area to allow cameras in court during testimony, although there will be 10 witnesses cameras won't be able to shoot. They also can't capture jurors' faces.

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