A 47-year-old Vernon Hills man was being held in lieu of $3 million bail Friday on allegations he killed his wife during a fight in their home Wednesday.
Ronald Stolberg, of the 300 block of Farmington Road, faces a first-degree murder charge alleging he cut off his wife's breathing while holding her down to the floor with a knee, Lake County Assistant States Attorney Stephen Scheller said in bond court Friday.
Scheller told Lake County circuit court Judge George Strickland that Stolberg called police at 5:21 p.m. Wednesday night claiming he came home from work to discover his 54-year-old wife dead.
Vernon Hills police called in the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force to investigate the death and, during their interview with Stolberg, discovered he and his wife were involved in a physical fight more than 12 hours before authorities were called. Authorities had not released the victim's identity as of late Friday.
According to Scheller, Stolberg and his wife started fighting in their bedroom between 9 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday because she repeatedly woke him up in the middle of the night.
After being awakened for the fifth time, Scheller said, Stolberg became irate over his lack of sleep, and a scuffle between the couple spilled out from the bedroom to a family room.
At that point, Scheller said, Stolberg's wife fell face down on the floor and he jumped on top of her and put a knee into her back, shoving her face in the floor.
After several minutes, the woman stopped struggling, Scheller said. Stolberg released her and went back to bed.
Stolberg woke up later Wednesday morning to go to work as a technician at a Buffalo Grove electronics manufacturer when he saw the victim laying in the same position he left her the night before, not moving. Rather than phoning for help, Stolberg left the home and went to work, Scheller said.
After working through the day, he returned to the house Wednesday evening and found his wife in the same position, Scheller said. He checked her condition and saw she had turned blue, Scheller said.
Stolberg phoned his mother at 4:56 p.m. before contacting police 30 minutes later, Scheller said.
Defense attorney Kevin Rosner of Northbrook said Friday the victim was suffering from undisclosed psychological issues and had been in treatment and hospitalized recently.
Those issues put pressure on the defendant and his family, and was the reason why she woke Stolberg multiple times during the night, Rosner said.
The Lake County Coroner's office has listed the cause of death as asphyxiation due to restraint. Scheller said the victim was unable to inhale because of the weight on her back and the way her head was forced into the floor. The coroner's office also said the woman suffered from blunt force trauma on her knees and hips due to the scuffle with her husband.
Stolberg, who could face 20 to 60 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, is due back in court June 27.
Scheller said Stolberg was convicted of aggravated battery to a police officer in 1982 and aggravated assault to a police officer in 1999. Both convictions took place in Cook County, and Stolberg received probation in each instance.
Stolberg also has two pending cases in Lake County, Scheller said. He was arrested earlier this year on two counts of resisting arrest during an altercation occurred as he handed out fliers in protest of the H1N1 vaccine being distributed in Lake County. Scheller said police were called to stop the flier distribution, but Stolberg ran from officers, resulting in the resisting arrest charges.
Before setting the $3 million bail, Strickland said the previous arrests were "indicative of (Stolberg's) inability to control oneself."
The murder was Lake County's first in 2011, authorities said.