Expert doubts Kustok version of wife’s death
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2014 12:52PM
Updated: February 21, 2014 6:09PM
A crime scene reconstructionist cast doubt Wednesday on Allan Kustok’s explanation of how his wife died, saying it was unlikely that Anita “Jeanie” Kustok 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 Sept. 29, 2010, shooting in the master bedroom of the Kustoks’ Orland Park house.
Kustok’s lawyers don’t want jurors to hear all of Englert’s testimony, arguing, in part, that conditions during the re-creations differed greatly from the day of the shooting.
Eight more jurors were chosen Wednesday, creating a jury of seven women and five men as well as three alternate jurors. They are scheduled to hear opening statements Thursday morning in the courtroom of Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Hynes at the courthouse in Bridgeview.
Prior to that, Hynes is expected to rule on the defense motion regarding Englert’s testimony.
Prosecutors say Kustok, 63, killed his wife with a .357-caliber revolver that he gave her several weeks earlier for their anniversary. He allegedly fired a single shot at Anita’s head while she slept in their bedroom.
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 held 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 in the bedroom 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 up 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 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 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 University. Sarah is a sportscaster in New York who 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.