After stabbing his mother so many times her head was nearly severed, prosecutors said Friday, Gary Schuning dragged her body to a bedroom inside their Addison home, covered it with a blanket and turned his attention to sex.
In the ensuing hours, the 23-year-old used his mother's credit card to order three prostitutes, they say. Two came and went without trouble, they say, but Schuning butchered a third when she called her pimp for help.
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Those were the gruesome allegations the prosecutors outlined to jurors in opening statements of Schuning's double-murder trial in DuPage County on Friday.
Schuning, now 28, could face a life sentence if convicted of the Feb. 26, 2006, killings of his mother, 40-year-old Doris Pagliaro, and 21-year-old call girl Kristi Hoenig of Chicago.
On the first day of testimony, prosecutors wasted no time diving into gory evidence, showing jurors photos of a half-naked Pagliaro, bound and gagged with a knife sticking out of her chest, and a lifeless and nearly naked Hoenig sprawled out on a bedroom floor, her neck smeared with blood.
"This defendant used 10 different knives to stab two different women a total of 59 times, killing them both," Assistant State's Attorney Mary Cronin told the jury.
Cronin said Schuning had been out clubbing in Chicago the night before. After returning home, she said, he became involved in a confrontation with his mother and pushed her down a flight of stairs, so hard that she crashed through a wall. At the bottom of the stairs, she said, he stabbed her 40 times, including four slashes to the throat, severing her windpipe and "nearly decapitating her."
Afterward, prosecutors said, Schuning dragged Pagliaro to a first-floor bedroom and put a blanket over her body, where she was found bound and gagged. He then went around the house, covering blood smears with towels and sheets, Cronin said.
Then he called the escorts.
Prosecutors said two prostitutes came and went separately, each commenting on the odd condition of the house and a large blood spatter near the front door. Cronin said Schuning explained he'd had a party and someone got sick.
When Hoenig arrived, she too commented on the condition of the house, prosecutors said. But it wasn't until after she found a bloody knife in a bathroom that she panicked and called her pimp, who heard her scream, "What's that in your hand? Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God," before the line went dead.
Police arrived that winter Sunday morning to find Schuning moaning on a bed upstairs with cuts and stab wounds to his hands and chest, and a knife in his hand. Hoenig was on the floor next to the bed.
In a recorded interview with police the next day, Schuning claimed he killed Hoenig in self-defense after she jumped on him with a knife after killing his mother. He later confesses in the recording that he killed his mother as prosecutors described, and killed Hoenig after she came out of the bathroom with a knife.
"I'm going to prison for the rest of my life," he tells the officers, calling himself a "lowlife." "I should be locked up in an insane asylum. I can't think straight."
But defense attorney Neil Levine argued Schuning was too rattled by the "horror of seeing his mother butchered under his nose" and "truly couldn't remember what happened" at the time of the interview.
Pointing to other suspects, Levine noted that the DNA of one of the first two prostitutes was recovered on two knives -- one upstairs and one downstairs -- and also inside the waistband of the Hoenig's pants.
He contended his client's hands were cut trying to stop a murderous group that may have included the escorts or their associates from stabbing his mother. He said the screams Hoenig's pimp heard were her reaction to the group coming after her next.
"Gary came within an inch of being the third victim," Levine said. "The police missed the killers by seconds."
The trial in Wheaton continues next week.