Two men charged with the premeditated murders of three members of a Darien family won't face execution if convicted, DuPage County prosecutors said Wednesday.
They opted against seeking the death penalty against Jacob Nodarse, who has a history of mental instability, as well as co-defendant Johnny Borizov.
Nodarse confessed to opening fire about 3 a.m. March 2 after using a hammer to shatter the window of the upscale home of Jeffrey and Lori Kramer as the couple slept, prosecutors said. They said Borizov persuaded Nodarse to carry out a plan to kill members of his ex-girlfriend's family as the former couple battled over custody of their infant son.
The Kramers and their 20-year-old son, Mike, were killed. Angela Kramer, 25, survived after dialing 911 while hiding in a closet. Two others also escaped the house unharmed.
Nodarse is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy, home invasion and obstructing justice for fleeing to Florida after the shooting. The 24-year-old Countryside man has some history of mental instability, including a prior suicide attempt and hospitalization, and is being evaluated for sanity and fitness.
Borizov, 28, of Willow Springs, also is facing first-degree murder charges. He and Nodarse remain held without bond. Both have pleaded not guilty and lack violent criminal records.
The law requires prosecutors to state their intentions regarding capital punishment within 120 days of indictment. Prosecutors weigh several factors, such as the nature of the crime and strength of the evidence, against a defendant's age, criminal and family record, mental health, and the wishes of the victim's family.
"The gravity of the offense is just one factor," said DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett, who declined to elaborate on his decision. "I carefully examined the facts regarding both men. I met with the (Kramer) family, and they understand and support the decision."
Illinois' unofficial 2000 moratorium on the death penalty remains in place, but judges and juries across the state still hand out death sentences under the law, albeit with less frequency. There are 15 condemned men on Illinois' death row - which former Gov. George Ryan cleared out more than seven years ago before leaving office when commuting 167 death sentences to life prison terms.
Of Illinois' condemned, Anthony Mertz, 34, is first in line for execution, but he still hasn't exhausted his appeals on his conviction in the 2001 murder of Rolling Meadows native Shannon McNamara, 21, at Eastern Illinois University.