Judge to decide if man who killed wife and left her body in their home for two days before attempting suicide is guilty of first-degree murder

Judge to decide if man who killed wife and left her body in their home for two days before attempting suicide is guilty of first-degree murder

A McHenry man who admitted to fatally stabbing his wife in 2016 and leaving her body in the basement of their home for two days was a “freeloader” who didn’t want to lose his “meal ticket,” prosecutors said Tuesday in closing arguments at the trial of Anthony Harrison.

“It is hard to imagine anyone more guilty of first-degree murder,” Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud told Judge James Cowlin who will rule on the case Sept. 12.

Zalud said Harrison, 33, was unemployed and facing domestic battery charges stemming from an incident just a few months prior to her death on June 4.

He described Laura Harrison as a friend, daughter and co-worker who should have lived a long, happy life instead “she got butchered in her own home.”

He said her husband likely stabbed her to death in the kitchen sometime June 4, then drug her body to the basement. He then drove her car to area stores and bought items such as a shovel, wheelbarrow, bleach, a 31-gallon garbage can, wood and fire starter, scrambling to find the way to get rid of her body and hide his crime.

Two days later he attempted to slash his own throat then called 911 for help and reported that his wife’s dead body was in the basement and that he had killed her.

Some evidence pointed to the possibility that over those two days he was planning on burning down the house and her with it, while other details of the crime scene – such as a deep hole freshly dug in the backyard – suggested he planned to bury her body.

Seasoned police officers called the crime scene – her graying remains covered in dried blood, deep stab wounds to her neck, lying in a basement laundry room covered in firewood with a gas can nearby – as “horrific.”

And it was “all because she wanted to leave an abusive life, she wanted the opportunity to be happy,” Zalud said.

But Harrison’s attorney, assistant public defender Kim Messer, said it was Laura Harrison who was in control of the situation in the days leading to her death.

She said the 30-year-old woman was the provocateur in a situation that led to her death. Messer asked the judge to find Harrison not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder.

During the trial hundreds of photos and pieces of evidence, such as receipts, store surveillance videos, internet searches and text messages were presented. Messer acknowledged the sheer “volume of evidence” but said that “is not indicative of the strength of the evidence.” She urged Cowlin to take his time and look at the “small things.”

She said Harrison was calm around his wife in the days prior to her death as she texted a family member saying she wanted him out of the house and threatened to call the police on him. Laura Harrison also called the McHenry County Crisis Center and the non-emergency McHenry police line and asked how to have him put out of the house. She was told he could not be removed from the house unless he was violent.

“Laura Harrison (was) in control of the relationship,” Messer said. “Anthony Harrison (was) trying to follow the rules.”

After he killed her he felt guilty and “between June 4 and 6 he was trying to figure out how to kill himself,” Messer said noting all the blood evidence from his self-inflicted neck wounds. “(Harrison) couldn’t believe it once he realized what he did,” Messer said.

She pointed to statements Harrison made to Dr. Richard Dilger, a clinical social worker at Advocate Condell Hospital in Libertyville, that “things were getting out of control” when he killed his wife.

Messer then read texts between Laura Harrison and her sister from June 3 where she is saying: “I just want him gone, he causes me too much stress.”
Messer also noted Dilger’s testimony when he said Harrison was suicidal and said he wanted to set himself on fire.

And this all occurred, Messer said, as “mutual combat” that led to her death “and him spending two days trying to figure out what to do.”

In earlier testimony city of McHenry Police Sgt. Nicholas Clesen said the last text message sent from Laura Harrison’s cell phone was at 6:33 p.m. Saturday June 4. Authorities believe she was killed between 6 and 10 p.m. that evening.

Her last text was sent to Anthony’s grandmother saying “He can only stay here if he leaves me alone.” At 8:20 p.m. that same evening, her cell phone received a text from a woman saying “Thinking of you and hoping you are OK.” This and three other texts received on her cell that evening were never opened, Clesen said.

Clesen also went through searches Anthony Harrison made on his cell phone beginning at 10:04 p.m. that same evening and continuing until Monday morning.

He searched: ”What happens if you cut the juggler vein” several times in various wording. He also searched “How quickly can someone bleed to death from a cut artery” and “can you buy a firearm while on trial for battery in Illinois?”

His last search inquiring how long it would take to die after cutting a jugular vein was about 7:20 a.m. that Monday. Clesen said he then called 911 reporting his attempted suicide and alleged murder about an our and a half later.

Trial to begin for man accused of murdering wife found dead in basement under a pile of wood and a gas can nearby

Trial to begin for man accused of murdering wife found dead in basement under a pile of wood and a gas can nearby

A McHenry County judge on Monday will hear the case of a man accused of fatally stabbing his wife while facing pending domestic battery charges from just months prior.

Anthony Harrison, 33, is set for a bench trial to begin Monday afternoon before Judge James Cowlin in the murder of his wife Laura Harrison. Harrison chose to have his case heard by a judge rather than a jury of his peers.

Authorities said Harrison fatally stabbed his 30-year-old wife in the neck on June 4, 2016.

Two days later he called 911 saying he had stabbed himself in the neck “multiple times.” He also told 911 dispatch that he had killed his wife two days prior, according to authorities and court documents.

Police found his wife’s body in the basement of their home near a pool of blood with wood piled up on top of her remains and a gas can nearby.

At a pre-trial hearing Friday Cowlin allowed prosecutors motion to enter at trial photos and receipts from local stores showing on June 5, 2016 – the day after allegedly killing his wife – Harrison bought several items, presumably to cover up the murder and dispose of her body.

Those items include a 31-gallon garbage can, 5-gallon gas can, bleach, Clorox wipes, wood, fire starter and $400 in gift cards, said Assistant States Attorney Scott Jacobson.

Prosecutors said that on Dec. 26, 2015, seven months prior to the alleged murder, Harrison committed the act of criminal misdemeanor domestic battery against his wife. They said he choked and scratched her on and near her neck, in the same areas in which he ultimately stabbed and killed her.

At the time of her death that domestic battery case was still pending. Prosecutors argued Friday that the intention behind killing his wife was “in part” to “silence” her so she could not testify him in that pending case.

Prosecutors cited the case of former Bolingbrook Police Sgt. Drew Peterson. Peterson was convicted in the 2004 murder of his third wife Kathleen Savio. He still is suspected in the presumed death of his fourth wife Stacey Peterson who has not been seen since 2007.

In the Savio case a judge allowed statements Savio made regarding their pending divorce and child support hearings. Prosecutors alleged that this could have been the reason behind killing her. Peterson was ultimately convicted in this case and sentenced to 38 years in prison. He. Has never been tried for the disappearance of Stacey Peterson.

But Harrison’s attorney Assistant Public Defender Kim Messer said there is no evidence of such intent.

“The state offered no evidence he tried to silence Mrs. Harrison,” Messer said. “Mr. Harrison did not face jail (in the domestic battery case). There was an offer already made. He was not trying to keep her from testifying. This murder case has nothing to do with prior domestic battery.”

On Monday morning before the trial began Cowlin ruled against allowing statements Laura Harrison made to police during the domestic battery case. He said Harrison may have killed his wife for any number of reasons but, unlike the Peterson case, there were no statements made to anyone saying he had threatened her in anyway prior to the murder.

Cowlin also allowed the prosecution to enter written text messages Laura Harrison had sent to her sister on the day she was allegedly killed saying she wanted her husband to leave the home sooner rather than later as was a prior agreement between the couple. The judge also allowed evidence that the words “I did this” were written in marker on a ledge inside the home and that Harrison wrote a letter to his grandma supposedly admitting to killing his wife. He also will consider the 911 call that Anthony Harrison made on June 6, 2016 and computer searches he made.

Laura Harrison was one of a set of triplets and a half sister to another set of triplets.

Attorneys said they expect a large gathering at Monday’s trial including Laura Harrison’s father who is flying in from

For more background visit:
China.http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-husband-charged-with-killing-wife-laura-harrison-met-20160624-story.html

Man who killed wife’s sex customer was just protecting her from a “400-pound knuckle dragger,” defense claims – judge to rule Aug. 30

Timothy Smith was protecting his wife from a “400-pound goon” when he accidentally shot and killed the man who came to have sex with her for money, his defense attorney said in a McHenry County courtroom this week.

But prosecutors rebutted that it was no accident and Smith is a liar who has rewritten history of the facts of the night. They said he is, in fact, guilty of first-degree murder and deserves to be resentenced to 50 years in prison.

Smith, 34, whose first conviction in 2013 was reversed on appeal, is again standing trial for the murder of Kurt Milliman. Authorities said he and his then pregnant wife, Kimberly Smith, had for about six months been posting ads on Craigslist offering sex for money with her.

On May 28, 2011 Milliman, 48, responded to one of those ads after exchanging messages with the Smiths arranging the meeting. Believing Timothy Smith was not at the home, Milliman arrived just after 11 p.m..

As Timothy Smith hid in a separate room, as he said he typically did when customers came to meet his wife, Kimberly Smith led Milliman to a back bedroom. The sex act started but soon Kimberly Smith decided she did not want to complete the act and showed the Spring Grove man to the door.

This is where things turned violent.

Milliman grabbed the woman and slapped her, she yelled out “Baby help me.” Timothy Smith quickly emerged from the room, ran out into the hallway with a loaded handgun and shot hm.

In closing arguments Matthew Haiduk said his client should be found guilty of lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter or second degree murder.

Haiduk said Smith was scared and protecting his wife from a “400-pound knuckle dragger” who was violent, had her “pinned against the wall … intent on having his way with her.”

“Kurt Milliman is twice the size of Tim Smith … he is bigger than most NFL players. He wore an XXXX L (shirt) … This is not a normal dude,” Haiduk said to Judge Sharon Prather who will announce her decision on the case Aug. 30. “This is a monster manhandling his wife because he didn’t get to have sex with her. … He had bad intentions. He was gonna get what he wants to get.”

Haiduk also said Milliman was shot from inches away as Tim Smith tried with his other hand to grab Milliman off of his wife. From the stand Wednesday Smith said the shooting was an accident.

Tim Smith and his wife also made a false report to 911 frantically saying there was an intruder in their home. The prosecution took issue with this saying that this false report showed “consciousness of guilty.”

Prosecutors also argued that rather than rush Milliman to the hospital which was less than a mile away Smith made attempts to cover up the crime and hide the computer on which the illicit arrangements were made. They said his emotions on the 911 call were fake.

To this Haiduk said though his words may have been a lie, Smith did not “manufacture emotion.”

“He’s scared to death,” Haiduk said. “This is a tragedy for everybody involved. Tim Smith did not intend to kill Kurt Milliman.”

But Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud rebutted Haiduk’s arguments saying the state did prove that this is first-degree murder. Zalud said all the state needs to prove is that Smith pulled the trigger knowing it would cause great bodily harm. He noted expert testimony that the gun was not shot by accident because it would have taken 12 pounds of pressure to shoot it, according to Julie Steele from the Illinois State Police. Prosecutors also cited expert testimony that Milliman was shot from about two feet away, not inches as the defense claimed.

Zalud poked holes in Smith’s statement that he was scared for his wife in that moment of shooting Milliman, when earlier in the evening he wasn’t scared to let him go to a back bedroom with her for sex.

“This idea the gun just went off doesn’t make sense,” Zalud said. “He shot him right in the back .. He shot an unarmed man who he invited into his house … staged a break in scene … made a false 911 call …” and continued to lie during a six hour police interview.

“If he felt justified in shooting him he would have come clean right away,” Zalud said. “Tim Smith is a dangerous revisionist historian and he’s a murderer. … Kurt Milliman didn’t have a gun, knife, never knew Tim Smith was there … (Smith) overreacted. He ran around the corner and shot him in the back. Killed him without any thought. … Tim Smith is not the victim here.”

Smith was convicted by a jury in 2013 but his conviction was overturned on appeal because Prather, who also oversaw that trial, failed to instruct the jury they could consider the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Timothy Smith started off the week going through jury selection but suddenly changed his mind and opted for bench trial. The Smiths have since divorced.

For more trial coverage visit:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/ct-met-prostitution-customer-murder-trial-continues-20180801-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/ct-met-prostitution-customer-murder-trial-continues-20180801-story.html

Man convicted of driving without license but not of what would have been his sixth DUI headed to prison

An Algonquin man who was found not guilty of what would have been his sixth conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol was sentenced to 18 months in prison Thursday for driving without a driver’s license for the fifth time.

Thomas A. Wangler, 55, was convicted by a jury in May of driving on a revoked or suspended license DUI/statutory summery suspension.

In asking for three years in prison, Assistant State’s Attorney Randi Freese said Wangler had seven prior convictions including five for driving under the influence of alcohol as well as for aggravated battery and burglary. She said based on his criminal history and repeated violations dating back decades he has proven “unable to comply with terms of sentence of probation.”

Wangler’s attorney Jeffrey Altman acknowledged Wangler’s criminal history dating back 35 years but said “today he is a changed person.”

Altman said a prison term would put a “strain on his family.”

At trial police said Wangler was pulled over at about 6 p.m. March 25, 2016 near the intersection of Route 31 in Crystal Lake after being spotted driving 11 miles over the speed limit.

When pulled over police found an open beer inside his green Cadillac and suspected he had been drinking. Wangler refused a Breathalyzer and roadside sobriety test and was belligerent, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Bruketta testified.

At sentencing Thursday Wangler told Judge Sharon Prather that he is “ashamed of my past … (but that) was a long time ago.”

Showing little sympathy, Prather responding that his “past is continuing to 2016… that is not so long ago.”

In handing down the sentence Prather continued Wangler “certainly is not eligible for probation …. You continue to violate the law.”

According to the indictment filed at McHenry County courthouse Wangler has three prior convictions for driving under the influence in Cook County in 1990. He also has convictions in McHenry County in 1993 and 2001. His prior convictions for driving while license revoked or suspended occurred in Cook County twice in 1990 and once in 2002. He also has one in McHenry County in 2002.

Convicted child sex offender sentenced to 26 years IDOC

A 58-year-old Algonquin man admitted to sexually assaulting and abusing three little girls under the age of 12 and was sentenced to 26 years in prison last week.

Richard Lampp, who was set to go before a jury on the two different cases which occurred in 2014 and 2016, pleaded guilty to two counts ofpredatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13 involving one of the girls. In a separate case involving two other children he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

For his guilty pleas additional charges were dismissed. Had he been convicted at trialon the most serious charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13 he faced 120 years in prison.

Lampp was arrested in 2016 and will receive credit for time served. The predatory chargesmust be served at 85 percent and the abuse charges served at 50 percent, bringing total time to be served to 20.7 years, McHenry County Judge James Cowlin explained. He also will be a registered sex offender, be on mandatory supervised release for three years or for life, and could be committed indefinitely to the department of human services as a sexually violent offender.

Earlier this year authorities charged hm with child pornography involving one of the victims, but those charges were dismissed Friday.

Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein read a letter to the judge written by the mother of two of the victims in which she called Lampp a “monster.”

“You are not human,” the mother wrote.

Concluding the hearing, Cowlin told the woman present in the courtroom that her children “are courageous and strong” and he wished them well.

Man who videotaped young girl in Target dressing room jailed

A man convicted of video taping a young girl at a McHenry department store in 2014 admitted Thursday he violated his yearlong probation and was re-sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Daniel J. Strentz, 33, of Des Plaines, entered a negotiated plea of guilty on July 13, 2016 to an amended charge of misdemeanor unauthorized video recording. He was originally charged with felony unauthorized video recording and live video transmission.

For that original charge he also was sentenced to 180 days, but received credit for time served at the required day-for-day and a portion was stayed pending compliance with probation, according to court records and prosecutors.

Strentz, who lived in Richmond at the time of his arrest, was accused of putting a recording device inside a changing room at the Target store in McHenry. At the time the room was occupied by a 14-year-old girl, according to the criminal complaint filed in the McHenry County courthouse.

In court on Thursday Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Ann Scholl said Strentz violated his probation last summer when he committed the offense of disorderly conduct in Streamwood. He was found guilty earlier this year of a class c disorderly conduct after a trial in Cook County, Scholl said.

According to Wisconsin Circuit Court website, in 2015 Strentz pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal “invade privacy/use surveillance device.” In this case he was accused of illegally video taping two people in a dressing room at Target in Lake Geneva, according to the website.

“Severely mentally ill” convicted child sex offender sent to prison for attempted kidnapping of 4-year-old boy: says “satan” spoke to him

Before being sentenced to 18 years in prison, a severely mentally-ill man – with a 1993 conviction for sexually assaulting a child – said Friday that “Satan” and “the spirits” were telling him what to do when he walked to a Woodstock park and grabbed a 4-year-old boy off his bike last summer.

Kevin Sorensen, 40, of Woodstock pleaded guilty but mentally ill in April to aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He is required to serve 85 percent of his sentence and will receive credit for time served since his arrest Aug. 11.

However, before his release Sorensen will be evaluated determine whether he is sexually violent which could result in him being housed at a state facility indefinitely. If released he would be on three years of mandatory supervised release. He also is required to register as a sex offender for life.

In court Friday, Jonathon Hunt, one of at least four bystanders who ran to the boy’s rescue, said at about 12:45 p.m. Aug. 11 he and his boss were driving by Olson Park when they “heard a bunch of kids screaming ‘drop him.’” They saw Sorensen walking away with the little boy and trying to pull down his pants. As they made their move to rescue the boy Sorensen released him. Three men grabbed him and “held him down until police arrived,” Hunt said.

Assistant State’s Attorney John Gibbons read a police report written by Woodstock Police Sgt. Rob Branum who interviewed Sorensen. Branum wrote that Sorensen said he did not go to the park that day with intentions to take the boy, but was hearing voices that told him to. When he grabbed the boy Sorensen told Branum he told the child: “You are mine now I am going to make you happy.” Sorensen continued saying he “was going to take him home and keep him as my child.” Sorensen said he was going to buy him toys and play games with him and if the child wanted he would have sex with him. Sorensen claimed he had been sexually assaulted by relatives when he was 8 years old and it made him happy.

Sorensen attempted to address the court in his own words at times stumbling and losing his train of thought. He said the day of the incident he had taken several pills to drown out the voices that were “taunting” him. He said the voices told him to “take a stroll to the park” and he did “not knowing what was going to happen.”

Throughout the years, he has tried several hospitals and medications to treat his mental illness and his “spiritual problems” even going to a priest who would not help him, he said.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos said he has been diagnosed with severe mental illness and schizophrenia and had been hospitalized several times since 2006. He has attempted suicide and has been on various medications and has had bouts with substance abuse. He also said he had suffered a traumatic event when he was a child, both of his parents have died and he has had no family support.

Gibbons read a statement from the victim’s mother who said she and her child, who rode his bike to the park that day with his two older siblings, have been traumatized. The mother wrote that her 4-year-old had a “tragic day” and her older children still feel guilty over what happened. After being reunited with her young son she said she held him as he cried and said “he was taken by some guy who was not his friend.” She was proud of her children who called out for help and grateful to those who stepped in to help.

However, she was later “flabbergasted” to learn of Sorensen’s past conviction and that he was not on the sex offender list.

Sorensen had been a registered sex offender for 10 years for a sexual assault committed in Ryder Woods in Woodstock in the 1990s, according to Woodstock police Chief John Lieb. He violated his registry in 2003. At the time he tried to kidnap the boy last summer, Sorensen was no longer on the registry.