In about the same 90 minutes it took Orland Park resident Allan Kustok to grasp a loaded .357-caliber revolver, shoot his sleeping wife in the face, wrap her body in bloody bed linens and drive her to Palos Community Hospital in the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2010, jurors in Kustok’s murder trial deliberated, ordered and ate lunch, and then delivered a guilty verdict on Tuesday afternoon.
Kustok, 63, bowed his head when the verdict was read while his sister, Sharon Crooks, sat behind him and wept as jurors were polled to confirm the verdict.
Prosecutors and relatives of the victim, 58-year-old Anita “Jeanie” Kustok, reacted to the guilty verdict with a mixture of faint smiles and tears of relief. They spoke with the press briefly outside the Bridgeview courtroom after the verdict.
“It’s kind of bittersweet that we lost a great sister,” said Jeanie’s brother, John Runko, his eyes tearing up and his voice wavering, as Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez gave him a reassuring pat on the back. “Nobody wins in this, but I’m just glad that justice was served.” Runko had been a witness for the prosecution, testifying back on Feb. 20 that he was close to his sister and was unaware of any trouble in her marriage.
Runko thanked the prosecution team for doing “a phenomenal job,” and his sentiments were echoed by Jeanie’s sister, Patti Krcmery.
“I’m so indebted to them for everything they’ve done, because they truly showed my sister and how wonderful she was” throughout the four-week trial, Krcmery said.
The jury clearly was not buying Kustok’s longtime contention that his wife had shot herself with the handgun—as on accident or as a suicide— that he claimed to have given her as a 34th anniversary gift in response to her alleged fear of being alone in the house.
During the trial, prosecutors made much of Allan Kustok’s allegedly adulterous ways, portraying him as a good-time Charlie who even joked about his “life of the party” exploits to a hospital nurse on the morning of his wife’s murder, and who received text messages from another woman while he was being quizzed by Orland Park police.
What appeared to be the decisive blow in the prosecution’s case was last week’s testimony by crime scene analyst Rod Englert that the killer had to be someone standing over Jeanie while wearing Allan’s T-shirt, shorts and glasses.
Englert testified on March 4 that the pattern of blood stains in the Kustoks’ Orland Park bedroom made it clear—at least from his analysis—that Jeanie could not have shot herself, deliberately or accidentally.
Further, the victim was reportedly right handed, which would not be consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the left cheek, police said in 2010.
Jurors also apparently brushed aside testimony given Monday by the Kustoks’ daughter, Sarah, that she did think her father killed her mother. Sarah was not in court on Tuesday.
The Kustoks’ children are former standout area athletes Zak and Sarah Kustok, who starred in several sports at Sandburg High School. Zak played quarterback at Northwestern University for three years, while Sarah played basketball at DePaul University, was an anchor for Comcast SportsNet Chicago and currently works for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.