(WAUKEGAN) Attorneys agree a north suburban man accused of murdering his wife made incriminating statements to police both at the crime scene and during later questioning, the News-Sun is reporting.
But they are at odds over whether the jury should hear what Ronald Stolberg, 49, of Vernon Hills said. He is accused of asphyxiating his wife, 54-year-old Rachel Stolberg, for disturbing his sleep on the evening of June 7, 2011.
Stolberg told police who first responded to his 911 call on June 8, 2011, that his wife repeatedly poked him awake the night before. He yelled at her and eventually took her “down to the ground” so he could sleep, according to earlier court testimony from a police detective.
Stolberg made more incriminating statements at the police station, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys are seeking to suppress what he told police from his upcoming trial, scheduled for May 20. Four police officers were called to testify during the hearing, which started in January.
Attorneys argued Friday before Circuit Judge Mark Levitt, who will rule April 11 on which, if any, of Stolberg’s statements will be permitted at trial.
Defense attorneys William Hedrick and Kevin Rosner argued Stolberg was essentially under arrest at the crime scene when police responded to his emergency call. Rosner added that investigators “coerced” Stolberg into making incriminating statements.
Prosecutors James Newman and Scott Hoffert argued that investigators did not order Stolberg about at the crime scene. Hoffert maintained that Stolberg made a “knowing and voluntary” decision to talk to investigators.
Stolberg’s statement to police was recorded, however the recording was not played during the hearing.
Officers on the scene did not leave Stolberg unattended. Newman argued a police officer remained with Stolberg as a comforting presence, since Stolberg was a man who just lost his wife.
But defense attorneys countered that an officer prevented Stolberg from entering his house and shooed his mother away a short time after she attempted to console her son, Hedrick said.
“Clearly he was a target of this case from the get-go,” Hedrick said.
He added that police never read Stolberg his Miranda rights when they questioned him; Stolberg told police about the recent troubles between he and his wife during these conversations.
Police testified Stolberg told officers his wife had stopped speaking with him and was communicating with him via notes. He also described how his wife had disturbed his sleep several times throughout the prior night, according to court testimony from several officers.
He yelled at her and eventually grabbed her by the wrists, then took her to the floor and left her laying face down as he went back to sleep, they added.
Stolberg said he stepped over her on his way to work the next morning and discovered she was deceased when he returned home from work, according to more testimony.
Police found no suicide note, no pools of blood, no knife or gunshot wounds on Rachel Stolberg when they arrived. That left them to figure the cause of death was either health-related or murder, Newman argued.
“A reasonable person on the scene (would be) believing he was holding her facedown until she stopped breathing ... we have a frustrated, sleep-deprived man with a wife who wasn’t letting him sleep. We are contending there certainly was probable cause to place him under arrest at the scene, but they did not,” Newman said.
Stolberg is being held without bond at the Lake County Jail.
— Lake County News-Sun
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