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Boyfriend charged with ordering hit on Darien family to stand trial Tuesday

Johnny Borizov

Johnny Borizov

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Updated: May 16, 2013 6:23AM

To prove Johnny Borizov ordered the murders of three members of his ex-girlfriend’s family, DuPage County prosecutors will rely mostly on the man who carried out the deadly shooting attack.

Prosecutors are expected to argue when Borizov’s trial opens this week that he used a “string of lies” to pressure his friend, Jacob Nodarse — who has a history of mental health problems — into committing the 2010 slayings.

Nodarse pleaded guilty but mentally ill to one of the killings in a deal that requires him to testify against Borizov, but also gives Nodarse a chance at a shorter prison term than he otherwise faced.

New evidence revealed in recent pre-trial hearings, however, shows other witnesses will describe how Borizov allegedly threatened ex-girlfriend Angela Kramer and her relatives in the months before the shooting spree inside the family’s Darien home.

Borizov faces charges that include murder, conspiracy, and murder solicitation for allegedly trying to have Kramer and her family killed so he could obtain sole custody of their then 13-month-old son.

The March 2, 2010 shooting rampage killed Kramer’s father, Jeffrey, 50, her mother, Lori, 48, and her younger brother, Michael, 20.

Angela Kramer also was a target during the 3 a.m. attack, prosecutors contend, but the 25-year-old hid in a closet to escape the bullets that killed her family members. Her older brother and a house guest escaped the attack by running from the house.

Nodarse, now 26, admitted gunning down Jeffrey Kramer, though authorities contend he was the sole gunman who stormed into the house and opened fire.

Attorneys for the 31-year-old Borizov make no secret of the fact they’ll urge jurors hearing the trial to reject Nodarse’s account of the killings — partly because he has a history of mental health issues that includes bipolar disease and depression.

They’ll also point jurors towards his plea agreement with prosecutors, which calls for him to receive a sentence of between 45 years and life in prison. If he had been convicted of all three slayings, he faced an automatic life sentence.

“All the evidence is going to show they can’t rely upon and trust his testimony,” said defense attorney Paul DeLuca, who declined to comment further.

But testimony expected from a handful of other witnesses could bolster Nodarse’s claims that Borizov masterminded the attack.

Among the testimony Judge Daniel Guerin agreed to allow as evidence during the trial was an alleged threat Borizov made in late 2009 to harm Lori Kramer.

“He said, ‘I’m going to hurt you,’” co-worker Dana Pauley quoted Kramer as saying after a conversation with Borizov.

Lori Kramer purportedly told her mother a few months before her murder that Borizov had threatened her during a phone call, telling her “I hate you, bitch. You will never see your grandson again.”

And one of Jeffrey Kramer’s co-workers is expected to describe an April 2009 altercation he saw in which Borizov allegedly pushed Kramer and threatened him with a knife.

“I’ll f---ing kill you,” Borizov yelled, according to a statement co-worker Neal Magouirk gave to police.

That type of testimony could be crucial, legal experts say, because there’s no evidence Borizov paid or hired Nodarse to carry out the shootings.

Instead, prosecutors allege, the Countryside man persuaded Nodarse to commit the attack through what prosecutor Joseph Ruggiero earlier described as “a string of lies.”

Borizov allegedly warned Nodarse he might be harmed by the Kramer family to prevent him from testifying on Borizov’s behalf during the child custody battle.

But Borizov also implied Nodarse would be harmed if he didn’t do what Borizov wanted, prosecutors contended.

Jurors may have trouble accepting those alleged actions were enough to persuade Nodarse to commit murder, legal experts said.

“If you can show he did it for money, people understand that,” said DePaul University law professor Leonard Cavise. “If it’s not clear what the motive is, that’s tougher.”

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin declined to comment Friday, except to say “we’ll try our case in the courtroom.”

Jury selection begins Tuesday.

The trial will be the first in the Chicago area where media cameras will be allowed to record the proceedings, though Guerin has ruled several witnesses, including Angela Kramer, won’t be photographed in court.

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