Defense expert attempts to discredit key prosecution witness in Kustok murder trial
BY BRIAN SLODYSKO Staff Reporter March 7, 2014 7:42PM
Updated: April 9, 2014 6:16AM
A forensics expert retained by defense lawyers in the Allan Kustok murder trial testified Friday that a rival forensics expert for the prosecution did not follow proper scientific protocol when he investigated the death of Anita “Jeanie” Kustok.
The testimony of Paul Kish, a New York-based blood-spatter analyst, aimed to undermine a key piece of the prosecution’s case — that forensic science can prove Allan Kustok shot his wife.
Testimony delivered by Kish at the Bridgeview courthouse was peppered with phrases like “insufficient” and “unreasonable” while Kish took on an academic tone to dismiss the findings of star prosecution witness Rod Englert.
Previously, Englert delivered testimony that indicated Allan Kustok, 63, likely shot his wife in the face while she lay in bed at the couple’s sprawling Orland Park home on Sept. 29, 2010.
Englert based his findings on crime-scene blood-spatter patterns, which, when coupled with the fatal bullet’s trajectory, suggested a gunman shot Jeanie Kustok at close range while standing alongside the couple’s bed.
But Kish said Englert — who will be paid more than $150,000 by Cook County prosecutors for his work on the case — stretched what could be proved with science when he reached his conclusions
Specifically, Kish argued that blood found on bedding materials and Allan Kustok’s clothing was not spatter from a gunshot wound, as Englert previously testified.
In fact, Kish said there wasn’t enough scientifically determined data to back up many of Englert’s conclusions. And evidence was irreparably compromised when Allan Kustok wrapped his dead wife in bedding and drove her body to a hospital, Kish testified.
“That kind of evidence doesn’t exist in this case,” Kish said. “There’s just insufficient building blocks.”
He also ripped Englert’s opinion that blood spatter on Allan Kustok’s glasses ended up there when he shot his wife. Kish called that “an unreasonable opinion” given the “facts of the case.”
During cross-examination, Assistant State’s Attorney James Papa went on the offensive, attacking Kish for being someone who does his work in a laboratory — not in the real world at crime scenes.
“You have no law enforcement background,” Papa said to Kish.
Papa pointed out that while Kish dismissed the analysis of the prosecution’s forensics whiz, he did not propose an alternate theory for how blood got onto Allan Kustok’s clothing.
“You have no idea, in your expert opinion, how that [blood] got there?” Papa asked. “Are you actually saying this?”
Later in the day, a firearms expert cast further doubt on Englert’s conclusions.
Ballistics expert Matthew Noedel testified it was impossible to do an accurate crime scene reconstruction because Jeanie Kustok’s body was moved after she was shot.
“We are not able to reconstruct this because [Jeanie] was moved, the pillows were moved,” Noedel said. “We simply don’t have that data.”