Evidence of extramarital affairs by accused murderer Allan Kustok will be allowed into evidence when he goes on trial for the 2010 death his wife Jeanie, who was a teacher at Central School in Riverside.
Cook County Associate Judge John Hynes made the ruling Oct. 10 when Kustok, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and his gray hair neatly trimmed, made a 10-minute appearance at the Bridgeview courthouse. Kustok’s attorneys had fought to keep evidence of his extramarital affairs out of the murder trial, arguing that such evidence was irrelevant and prejudicial.
But Hynes disagreed.
“I believe the probative value outweighs the prejudicial effect,” Hynes said summarizing his ruling from the bench.
The evidence of affairs will be introduced by the prosecution to try and show that Kustok had a motive for killing his wife.
However, Hynes said that he would review the evidence of Kustok’s extramarital affairs before letting it be introduced at trial and that he would set limits about how such evidence would come in at the trial.
Two women, identified in court only by their initials, are apparently ready to testify for the prosecution about their relationships with Kustok.
At a hearing on the issue last month, lead prosecutor Jennifer Gonzalez said that Kustok had affairs or talked with about having sex with seven women. She also said Kustok carried on a five -year affair with one woman.
Gonzalez claimed Kustok told the women that he was unhappy in his marriage and that he intended to leave his wife. She also said that about six months before Jeanie Kustok died, Allan Kustok starting using the AshleyMadison.com website, which bills itself as the world’s leading “married dating service for discrete encounters.”
The slogan on site’s home page is “Life is short, Have an affair.”
Hynes ruled in favor of the defense in another pretrial motion, ruling that evidence of the financial difficulties the Kustok family was having cannot be introduced into evidence at the trail.
At last month’s hearing prosecutors said that the Kustoks were heavily in debt. Prosecutors said that they had a combined income of about $100,000 but had a $600,000 mortgage, about $100,000 in credit card debt, a $100,000 line of credit and owed $300,000 to a relative.
But the prosecution could not provide any evidence that Allan Kustok would benefit financially from the death of his wife. Hynes said there was no direct evidence that financial problems could be a motive for murder.
“The state failed to show it’s relevant,” Hynes said.
Neither the defense nor the prosecution lawyers would comment on the judge’s ruling, citing a gag order Hynes has imposed upon them.
Hynes had wanted to set a trial date during the appearance, but the prosecution and defense could not agree on a date, which perturbed the judge.
The trial had been tentatively set to start on Dec. 2, but one prosecution witness will not be available at that time. The prosecution asked for a January trial date while the defense countered with either December or February.
The judge told the lawyers to be back in court on Oct. 30 with a firm trial date.
“This case is over three years old,” Hynes said. “I wanted this case completed this year. This is a priority on my court call.”