Judge allows evidence of extramarital affairs in Allan Kustok murder case
BY MIKE NOLAN Sun-Times Media February 13, 2014 9:03PM
Updated: February 13, 2014 9:04PM
Five women who were allegedly romantically involved with Allan Kustok in the months before his wife’s death won’t have their identities concealed when they testify at his murder trial, a Cook County judge ruled Thursday.
Circuit Court Judge John Hynes also decided that their testimony is relevant in the case, dismissing an argument by Kustok’s attorneys that evidence of extramarital affairs would not support a motive for murder.
Kustok’s jury trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday at the county courthouse in Bridgeview. Kustok is accused of shooting his wife in the head as she slept on the morning of Sept. 29, 2010, in their bedroom at their Orland Park house.
Prosecutors say that after shooting his wife, Anita “Jeanie” Kustok, Kustok rolled her body up in a robe and bedsheets and drove to Palos Community Hospital.
Kustok told police that he awoke to a gunshot and found his wife dead, lying on her back with her hands across her chest, a gun in her right hand.
His son, Zak Kustok, was a star quarterback at Sandburg High School and Northwestern University. His daughter, Sarah Kustok, is a sportscaster who earned all-area honors in basketball and volleyball at Sandburg and was a standout for DePaul University’s women’s basketball team.
The prosecution intends to show that Kustok had a troubled marriage and had affairs with other women. The women wished to be identified in court only by their initials because of their “extreme desire” not to have their names publicized, Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez told Hynes Thursday in arguing for a protective order.
“They did not willingly put themselves into this public light,” she said.
In denying the motion, Hynes said he was “sensitive to the fact these witnesses may be embarrassed” about what they’ll reveal in court, but that he saw no compelling reason to shield their identities.
Arguing that the women’s testimony isn’t relevant, Rick Beuke, one of Kustok’s lawyers, said the jury should not hear from them unless what they say clearly establishes that his client “had a mind-set to kill his wife as a result of relationships with these women.”
Introducing their testimony is an attempt by prosecutors to “paint Mr. Kustok as a bad person” in the eyes of jurors, he said.
To the contrary, some of the women will acknowledge that Kustok spoke about his wife “in very favorable, loving terms” and never indicated his marriage was rocky, Beuke said.
But Gonzalez said at least two of the women will testify that Kustok told them he was “unhappy at home and intended to get a divorce.”
Hynes ruled that the women’s testimony would help show Kustok’s state of mind, noting that some of the liaisons took place “months, if not days, before Mrs. Kustok died.”
Still undecided is the potential testimony for the state of Paul Englert, a blood-splatter expert and crime scene reconstructionist, who compiled reports based on recreations of the crime scene in October and December 2010.
Laura Morask, one of Kustok’s attorneys, questioned how closely the reconstructions hew to the conditions of the actual crime scene and argued that Englert’s testimony regarding the recreations should not be heard by the jury. The first reconstruction was at the Kustok home, while the second took place in a garage at Orland Park police headquarters.
“Everything’s been altered; not once, but twice,” Morask said.
In arguing that Englert should be allowed to testify, Gonzalez told Hynes that the crime scene was altered by Kustok “right from the get-go,” as he removed sheets and pillows from the couple’s bed.
“Jeanie Kustok and the jury deserve to know what happened in that bedroom,” she said.
Hynes delayed a ruling on Englert, saying he needed to review the issue.