Sarah Kustok, who rose to local celebrity as a sports reporter covering the Chicago Blackhawks during their 2010 Stanley Cup season, testified that she does not believe her father murdered her mother but said she has never asked him what happened the morning three years ago when her mother died of a gunshot in the face.
Sarah Kustok was the final witness to testify in the trial, now entering its fourth week. Her hour on the stand, intended to bolster the defense's case that Allan Kustok and his wife of 34 years adored each other, provided the most emotional testimony in a trial that has centered mostly on dry forensics evidence and tawdry details of Allan Kustok's several extramarital affairs.
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Orland Park, IL, USA
76th Ave./5th District Courthouse, Illinois and Michigan Canal, Bridgeview, IL 60455, USA
"Did (police) ask you if you could ever conceive of your father taking your mother's life?" defense attorney Rick Beuke asked.
"They did," she said. "And I said, 'Absolutely not.'"
Beuke asked if learning that her father had cheated on her mother with several women had changed her opinion during the years her father awaited trial.
"I do not condone that. I find that wrong. That's not OK with me," she said. "But it hasn't changed."
Sarah Kustok spoke of her close relationship with her family — including with her brother, former Northwestern University quarterback Zak Kustok, her "biggest supporter, to this day" — in a voice that was soft and at times inaudible. Her own expression alternated from warm smiles, as when she recalled planning a birthday surprise for her mother the day before she died, to a look of wounded earnestness when prosecutors asked her if she knew about her father's cheating.
"You lost your mother," Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said, setting up one of her final questions of Sarah Kustok's cross-examination.
"You don't want to see your dad convicted here in this courtroom, do you?"
Sarah Kustok shook her head. "No."
"It is unfathomable to you that your father could have done this?" Gonzalez asked.
"Is it equally unfathomable to you that he did not call 911 after your mother was shot?"
"I, to be honest … I can't put myself in his shoes," Sarah Kustok said.
Asked if she had talked with her father about what happened the morning her mother died in the couple's Orland Park bedroom, Sarah Kustok said: "To be honest, when we talk, we have not talked about it."
Allan Kustok, who has spent most of the trial staring impassively at the table in front of him, fidgeted with a tissue and wept intermittently, sniffling audibly more than once. The 63-year-old appeared anxious for the duration of his daughter's time on the stand.
Monday was the first time Sarah Kustok had been in the courtroom since the opening days of the trial, when she sat behind her father during jury selection and pretrial motions, at times shaking her head when prosecutors described evidence they contend shows Allan Kustok killed his wife Sept. 29, 2010.
Zak Kustok has not attended court since the first days after his father was charged with murder. He recently told the SouthtownStar he was not supporting his father's bid for acquittal.
Allan Kustok has told investigators that he awoke to the sound of a gunshot and saw his wife dead beside him in bed, bleeding from a gunshot in the face and a .357 Magnum pistol he gave her as an anniversary gift either in or near her hand.