A Riverside woman testified last week that she met Allan Kustok for drinks just two days before the shooting death of local teacher Anita “Jeanie” Kustok.
Kathleen Rettke was called as a prosecution witness at the trial of Allan Kustok, who is charged with murdering his wife. Rettke, a married mother of two, told the jury that Kustok had contacted her on a dating website for people who are married a few days before they met.
Jeanie Kustok, a popular teacher of gifted students at Central and Hollywood schools in Riverside District 96, died of a gunshot wound to the face in the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2010.
In the immediate aftermath of his wife’s death, Allan Kustok told police that he was awakened that morning by what he described as loud explosion and found his wife bleeding profusely and lying dead in bed right next to him.
Kustok drove his wife’s body to Palos Community Hospital at around 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 29. Prosecutors allege that Allan Kustok shot his wife in the face as she slept.
Later that same morning, Rettke sent three text messages to Allan Kustok. When Rettke sent those text messages, she had no idea that Jeanie Kustok was dead or that Allan Kustok was being interviewed by police.
In the first six days of Kustok’s trial, five women have testified about their contacts with Allan Kustok, including a woman who testified on Friday afternoon that she had a long-term intimate relationship with him from late 2005 until he was arrested shortly after Jeanie’s death. Prosecutors are trying to show that Kustok had a motive to kill his wife.
Before the trial began prosecutors asked Judge John J. Hynes if the women who met Kustok could be identified only by their initials in open court. But the judge denied that motion, and Rettke and the four other women had the uncomfortable experience of giving their names and testifying about their private lives in open court in front of television and newspaper reporters.
On Feb. 25 Rettke told the jury that she met Allan Kustok on a website called AshleyMadison.com. The two exchanged emails and cellphone numbers and agreed to meet.
Rettke told the jury she met Kustok for drinks on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2010 at the bar/restaurant, Rivers, on Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. Rettke testified they met on a Monday because she had a two-hour window on Mondays between the time when she got off of work and the time she would pick up her two children from a weekly religious education class.
Two days later, Rettke was at a business lunch in downtown Chicago when she got a call on her cellphone from an Orland Park police detective, who had obtained Kustok’s phone. Two detectives drove downtown that afternoon and interviewed Rettke for about 15 minutes.
The main point of contention in Rettke’s testimony was whether she told the detectives that Kustok spoke highly of Jeanie. On direct examination, Rettke said that Kustok had said little about his wife, but spoke glowingly of his daughter, Sarah, who was at the time a sports reporter for Comcast SportsNet. Rettke said that she was a huge sports fan and was familiar with Sarah Kustok.
On cross examination Kustok’s attorney, Rick Beuke, reading from the police report prepared by the detectives, pointed out to Rettke that the report stated that she had told the detectives that “Allan spoke highly of Anita and never said why he was going to have an affair.”
Rettke testified that she did not remember telling the detectives that.
The defense contends that even though Kustok had extramarital relationships, he loved his wife and always spoke highly of her.
Rettke testified that Kustok told her that his wife taught in Riverside Elementary School District 96, the same school district where Rettke’s two children were enrolled. Rettke’s children did not attend the schools where Jeanie taught, and Rettke testified that she had never heard of Jeanie Kustok until meeting Allan Kustok.
Beuke pointed out that the police report indicated that Rettke was shocked to find out that Jeanie Kustok had been shot, and the report stated that Rettke did not suspect Allan. Rettke testified that she did not say that to the detectives.
When asked to explain differences between her testimony at the trial last week and statements attributed to her in the police report, Rettke said that she was frazzled and nervous about being part of the case.
“I was scared,” Rettke said. “I don’t want my children involved. I didn’t do anything. I had drinks and went home, and I am scared.”
The trial, now in its second full week, is moving towards its conclusion. The prosecution’s most important witness, a blood-spatter expert, was expected to begin testifying on Tuesday after the Landmark’s press time.
The defense could begin presenting its case on Wednesday, March 5.