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Allan Kustok found guilty of killing wife

allan kustok

A jury found Orland Park businessman Allan Kustok guilty in the murder of his wife Anita “Jeanie” Kustok.

She was found shot to death in her bed in the early morning hours on September 29, 2010.

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It was a case three years in the making  and took roughly four weeks to play out in the courtroom. But in less than two hours, however, a jury found Orland Park businessman Allan Kustok guilty of first degree murder. The charge: Killing his own wife.

It was a case based largely on circumstantial evidence, but the jury must have decided that was enough to make a clear and unanimous decision.  They told prosecutors they didn’t buy Allan Kustok’s story about how his wife Jeannie killed herself with a high powered gun, a gun her husband had given her for their anniversary.

That story was too flimsy and the crime too calculated, the jury decided.

That 12 person jury wasted no time convicting 63-year-old Kustok of killing his wife Anita, or Jeannie as she’s better known, inside their Orland Park home in 2010. She was the mother of their two children, Zak and Sarah–a sports reporter for the Brooklyn Nets. Sarah testified on her father’s behalf just yesterday saying he wasn’t capable of killing her mother. She also didn’t believe Jeannie would have killed herself.

Neither child was present, however,  when the guilty verdict was read aloud in court today and the defendant dropped his head and shook it back and forth in disbelief.

For Jeannie’s relatives, there were great sighs of relief across the aisle. They are grateful for the outcome. They are grateful for the prosecutors’ hard work.

In court, assistant state’s attorney Jim Papa told the jury, “Her blood was on him in sizes and places that it shouldn`t and couldn`t be… the only way for all of that to get there is from this event.”

He went on to say it was as though Jeannie Kustok herself was screaming from the grave, “He did it.  He killed me.”

ALLAN ANITA KUSTOK 2Patti Krcmery, the victim’s sister, said she was “eternally grateful.”

Meanwhile, Allan Kustok’s sister Sharon Crooks wept for her brother, saying, “The jury has spoken. Two families are destroyed. There’s no victor here. We loved Jeannie deeply.”

Allan Kustok could get 45 years to life in prison.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 17.

Closing arguments continued Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Allan Kustok, an Orland Park businessman accused of killing his wife.

The nearly four-week trial wrapped up Monday with emotional testimony from the Kustok’s daughter, television sports reporter Sarah Kustok.  She testified her parents were in a loving and supportive 34-year marriage and that she couldn’t fathom her father killing her mother or her mother, Anita Kustok, taking her own life.

For nearly an hour during closing arguments Tuesday morning, prosecutors pressed the point that while there is no solid evidence pointing to Allan Kustok’s guilt, they say there is a plethora of circumstantial evidence.

Kustok is accused of shooting his wife, Anita in the face while she lay sleeping in their bed in the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2010.

The defense claims Anita Kustok she killed herself.

Prosecutors argue a number of actions Allan took on that morning point to his guilt, including that he didn’t call 911.  Instead, they say, he waited an hour to an hour and a half before he wrapped her body in sheets and drove her to Palos Park Hospital.

They also point to gunshot residue found on his hands – not hers – and blood splatter on his clothing “in places it shouldn’t have and couldn’t have been” if he didn’t shoot her.

And the elephant in the room—as the prosecutor put it – were the extra-martial affairs that point to Allan Kustok leading a double life.

The prosecution closed by saying the circumstantial evidence is such that “it’s as though Anita Kustok is screaming from the grave ‘he did it… he killed me!’”

When the defense got its turn Allan Kustok’s lawyer argued Anita Kustok’s death was a tragic accident that she’s not here with us today.”

He went on explain why his client never called 911 saying: “for what… she was dead”.

His lawyer also pointed out from the beginning Kustok claimed his wife killed herself, even telling the hospital guard, “Help me, help me, my wife shot herself. She’s dead.”

Sarah Kustok’s brother Zak is not supporting his father; Zak Kustok’s wife testified for the prosecution.

The case could be in the jury’s hands by the end of the day.

The last witness in the murder trial of Allan Kustok took the stand today.

Sarah Kustok spoke quietly and whispered before the court in Bridgeview as her father sat and stared virtually void of emotion as he has for weeks, her testimony appearing to have little impact on the murder case.

Sarah Kustok has waited days to take the stand.  She is the only one of the two Kustok children who agreed to testify either for or against their father who is accused of killing his wife. Sarah, a sports reporter for the Brooklyn Nets, told the jury how her parents had a loving relationship. Her mother Anita, or Jeannie as she is better known, was her best friend.

Details about her father’s extramarital affairs that have been aired in court were news to her, she told prosecutors. She only became aware of the infidelity following her mother’s death.  While she doesn’t approve of his betrayal, she fails to believe her father could kill her mother. She answered lawyers’ questions teary eyed with her voice cracking at times.

“You’ve learned some things about your father.  … Has that done anything to change your opinion that you gave to those police officers?” asked her father’s attorney.

“No. I do not condone that. … I’m not OK with that, but that hasn’t changed my mind.” said Sarah Kustok on the witness stand.

Sarah Kustok told the court she never knew her father allegedly bought her mother a gun for their anniversary, a 357-magnum used in the death of Jeannie Kustok back in 2010.  That gun was recovered inside their Orland Park home.

She also told the court she has kept in touch with her dad over the years as he awaited trial, but never asked him about what happened that fateful day.  She says she never asked him why he didn’t call 911 when Jeannie was discovered dead.

The defense claims Jeannie Kustok killed herself with that gun.  The medical examiner has never claimed it to be anything but a homicide from the very start.

Closing arguments in the murder trial are set to begin tomorrow.

The defense is expected to call its principal character witness today in the murder trial of Orland Park businessman Allan Kustok.

Prosecutors say Kustok murdered his wife Anita in 2010; Kustok claims his wife shot herself to death.

Kustok’s daughter Sarah is expected to testify that her father couldn’t have killed his wife; she says, the night before her mother was shot, she helped her father plan a surprise birthday gift for her mother.

Sarah Kustok’s brother Zak isn’t supporting his father; Zak Kustok’s wife testified for the prosecution.

The defense is expected to call its star witness Friday in the murder trial of Orland Park businessman Allan Kustok.

Kustok is accused of shooting his wife Jeanie to death in the couple’s bedroom in 2010.

Kustok’s daughter Sarah is expected to tell how her and her father were planning to buy her mother a gift the night before she died.

The defense claims Jeanie Kustok took her own life with a gun.

The daughter-in-law of Orland Park businessman Allan Kustok testified that she thought he and her mother-in-law had a happy marriage.

Nicole Kustok said she was shocked, four years ago, to hear that her mother-in-law, Anita “Jeannie” Kustok, had been shot to death.

Allan Kustok is on trial for her murder; he claims she killed herself.

Nicole Kustok said she wouldn’t describe the Kustoks’ marriage as perfect, but said they seemed to be happy.

Prosecutors in the murder trial of Orland Park businessman Allan Kustok are painting a picture of a cheating husband who would stop at nothing to get out of an unhappy marriage.

Kustok is accused of shooting and killing his wife, Anita, in their home in 2010.

One woman testified she connected with Allan Kustok on a website for married people looking to have extramarital affairs.  She said she met with Kustok at a restaurant in the Loop to discuss how they could get together.

Defense attorneys argue that Kustok loved his wife but that she killed herself in the couple’s bed.

Testimony is expected to continue through the end of the week.

Opening statements began Friday in the Allan Kustok murder trial.

Kustok is accused of killing his wife in their Orland Park home in 2010. His defense attorneys claim Anita Kustok committed suicide.

While the trial has just begun, one witness has already testified on video.  A woman who says she had an affair with Kustok three months before his wife died.

Jurors will see that video at a later date during the trial.

ALLAN ANITA KUSTOK 2

Jury selection begins Tuesday, in the murder trial of Allan Kustok.

Prosecutors say Kustok shot his wife Anita in the head, more than three years ago, as she slept in her bed in Orland Park.

Kustok says his wife committed suicide.

As for other gunshots fired into the bedroom furniture, Kustok says he emptied the gun so he wouldn’t be tempted to kill himself after he saw his wife dead.

Kustok’s son Zak was a quarterback at Northwestern; his daughter Sarah worked for Comcast Sportsnet, and now works for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

By Joel Hood and Lolly Bowean

TRIBUNE REPORTERS

Prosecutors began laying out the murder case against Allan J. Kustok on Friday, using the defendant’s own explanation of events to bring charges against him, while his children stood by him.

After driving his wife’s body to a southwest suburban hospital Wednesday morning, an emotional Kustok, 59, told investigators he’d been awakened by a loud noise in their Orland Park home and found his wife, Anita Kustok, in the bedroom with a gunshot wound in her face, said assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Pete Troy.

Anita Kustok, whom friends and family called “Jeanie”, lay flat with her arms crossed atop her chest. In her right hand was the .357-caliber Smith and Wesson the defendant had bought a year ago, Allan Kustok told police.

It was an improbable story, prosecutors said at a news conference Friday, considering the medical examiner’s office determined the bullet that killed Kustok entered her left cheek below the eye and exited the right side of her neck — an awkward shot for somebody holding a gun in their right hand.

More troubling, they said, was that Kustok didn’t call 911 after discovering his wife and told police that he waited 90 minutes before driving her to a hospital in Palos Heights.

“I believe any reasonable person would find it unreasonable to wait an hour and a half before you take your loving spouse to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head,” Troy said.

Kustok displayed no emotion as he was arraigned Friday in Bridgeview on charges of first-degree murder. Bail was set at $2 million as the defendant’s children — a local TV sports reporter and a former star quarterback — sat in court.

“The children know that their father could not have committed these acts the state accused him of,” attorney Pete Rush said on behalf of Sarah Kustok, a reporter for Comcast SportsNet, and her brother, Zak, who led Northwestern to a Big Ten football title in 2000 before a brief stint in the NFL.

“Jeannie Kustok was a saint,” Rush said. “She lived her life for everyone else — for her family, for God.”

In building the case, Troy said, prosecutors will examine the relationship between the longtime couple. Typically in domestic violence cases, financial strains and marital problems contribute to a motive, he said.

Records show the Kustoks paid off their home in the 10900 block of Royal Oaks Lane in 2004 after a jury awarded $800,000 to $900,000 to the family in a civil case against one of Allan Kustok’s former employers. Kustok has had numerous jobs over the past 15 years, records show, most recently as a local sales representative for a sports medicine company based in Florida.

Anita Kustok, 58, an elementary school teacher, was pronounced dead at about 7 a.m. Wednesday at Palos Community Hospital. The medical examiner’s office said she likely died within a few seconds of the gunshot, which was fired from just inches away.

When news of her death became public Thursday, it sent shockwaves through the affluent neighborhood where the couple lived and seemed to have an idyllic life. Friends said they were in disbelief and described the two as a “perfect, happy couple.”

Friends said the Kustoks met while Allan Kustok was an offensive lineman for the University of Illinois from 1969-73.

Prosecutors said Kustok told investigators that, after being awakened and finding his wife mortally wounded, he picked up the gun and threw it across the room. He later retrieved it and put it to his own head but did not pull the trigger. Instead he fired five shots into an armoire and wiped the blood from his wife’s face.

Troy said the size and power of the gun would have made it unlikely that Kustok could shoot herself in such a manner.

“I found it striking that, according to him, she was lying on her back with her arms crossed and a weapon of significant power and weight was still in her right hand,” Troy said.

Prosecutors said Kustok told authorities that he wrapped his wife in his green robe and a bed sheet before driving her to the hospital.

Police said that when they reached Allan Kustok at the hospital, he was emotional but showed “no outward signs of injury.”

Kustok’s attorney, Rick Beuke, asked that the $2 million bail be reduced to $200,000. Kustok does not have a passport and is not a flight risk, Beuke said.

Cook County Circuit Judge Joan M. O’Brien denied the request, and Kustok remained in custody late Friday at the Cook County Jail’s Cermak Hospital after undergoing physical and mental evaluations, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Kustok is due back in court Oct. 25.

jhood@tribune.com

lbowean@tribune.com

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