Brother testifies ‘Jeanie’ Kustok ‘wouldn’t know what to do with’ a gun
By Mike Nolan Sun-Times Media February 21, 2014 2:50PM
Updated: March 23, 2014 6:17AM
While Allan Kustok’s attorneys insisted Friday that his wife wanted a gun for protection at their Orland Park home, Anita “Jeanie” Kustok’s younger brother testified that he and his sister spoke weekly and she never mentioned having a gun.
Kustok, 63, is charged with killing his wife by shooting her in the head in their bedroom on the morning of Sept. 29, 2010. He told authorities that he was awakened by a gunshot to find his wife dead next to him in their bed — still holding the gun, with her arms crossed on her chest.
Rick Beuke, one of Kustok’s lawyers, said in his opening remarks that the .357-caliber revolver was “Jeanie’s protector” and that she had asked Kustok for a gun in 2009 because his job sometimes took him out of town and she “worried excessively” about someone breaking into their house while she was alone.
John Runko testified that he and his sister were close and would talk “about a lot of things,” and Jeanie never mentioned having a gun and he was certain she would have done so if she had one. Runko said he and Jeanie didn’t grow up around guns, and “she wouldn’t know what to do with one.”
Cook County prosecutors allege that Kustok was unhappy in his 34-year marriage and had affairs with several women, some of whom he told that he planned to seek a divorce.
In her opening statement to the jury, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorna Amado-Chevlin said Kustok led a secret life that he kept from family and friends, and “he fooled everyone.” The testimony of the women with whom Kustok had affairs will give jurors a “glimpse into this defendant’s motive and state of mind,” she said.
“Jeanie did not deserve the death that this defendant chose for her,” Amado-Chevlin said.
But Beuke said the couple had an “absolutely perfect marriage” and described the prosecution’s version of Anita’s death as “preposterous.”
“It didn’t happen that way,” he said.
Amado-Chevlin pointed out to jurors that Kustok “did nothing to save Jeanie” after finding her wounded, such as calling 911.
Police have said Kustok waited about 90 minutes before wrapping up her body and bringing it to the emergency room at Palos Community Hospital.
Beuke told jurors that Kustok “shook her and she was dead,” making it unnecessary to call 911, and that he “cradled his wife in his arms” and considered suicide before driving to the hospital.
Kustok told authorities that, after finding his wife, he briefly considered using the gun to kill himself before emptying it with five shots into a bedroom dresser.
Jeff Cavender, the first Orland Park police officer to speak with Kustok the day of the shooting, testified Friday that Kustok told him how he found his wife, demonstrating to the officer how her arms were crossed over her chest. Cavender, now the police chief in Momence, said Kustok told him he had bought the revolver for a wedding anniversary and did not know where in the house the gun was kept.
Prosecutors intend to call as a witness forensics expert Rod Englert, who determined that Jeanie Kustok likely did not shoot herself, based on his two re-creations of the crime scene and the blood spatter patterns on the bed and on Kustok’s clothing.
His attorneys failed in their attempt to limit some of Englert’s testimony, arguing that conditions during the re-creations differed greatly from the day of the shooting, potentially leading to faulty conclusions.
During his opening statement, Beuke likened Englert to a hired gun, saying he was paid $100,000 to “get the opinion [about how Jeanie died] they [prosecutors] wanted him to get.
The defense plans to call experts to the stand who will discount Englert’s findings, Beuke said.
Kustok has been jailed in Kankakee County since his arrest shortly after his wife’s death. He was transferred to Cook County Jail for the trial but was not held there while awaiting trial because he formerly worked at the jail and knew its operation and some staff members, authorities said.