Several statements a Darien couple made to family members and co-workers weeks before being gunned down in their home will be heard by jurors when the case against the man charged with being the mastermind of the shooting goes to trial.
DuPage County Judge Daniel Guerin on Friday agreed to allow the hearsay statements when Johnny Borizov stands trial in the March 2010 murders of Jeffrey and Lori Kramer and their 20-year-old son, Mike. The trial is scheduled to begin April 16.
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Prosecutors say Borizov, 31, of Willow Springs, was involved in a bitter child-custody dispute with Jeffrey and Lori Kramer's daughter, Angela Kramer, when he enlisted co-defendant Jacob Nodarse to murder her family.
The Kramers were fatally shot inside their home after Nodarse broke in through a window about 3 a.m. Angela Kramer survived by hiding in a closet.
Now prosecutors want jurors in Borizov's trial to hear from four witnesses who say Lori and Jeffrey Kramer told them weeks before they were killed that Borizov threatened or intimidated them.
One of Lori Kramer's co-workers, Dana Pauley, says Kramer told her Borizov once threatened, "I'm going to hurt you." Another witness, Joyce Tambarino, said Borizov told Lori Kramer, "You'll never see your grandson again, and I hope you die."
However, witness William Svatos Jr. won't be able to repeat a comment Jeffrey Kramer made to him. Two months before the slayings, Jeffrey Kramer confided he was "worried about this Johnny coming in and shooting up the place," according to Svatos.
Judge Guerin decided that statement runs the risk of being unfair and prejudicial. So it won't be allowed during the trial.
The fourth witness, Evelyn Hanley, won't be able to tell jurors about threats she heard about through Lori Kramer because it's unclear when that conversation took place. But Hanley will be able to testify that Kramer told her Borizov was "combative."
The additional witnesses are intended to corroborate Nodarse's account of what happened.
After the killings, Nodarse fled to his parents' home in Florida, where he was arrested the next day. Authorities said he later confessed to killing the Kramers at Borizov's behest.
In September 2011, Nodarse pleaded guilty but mentally ill to first-degree murder in a plea deal that requires him to testify at Borizov's trial.
Prosecutors say Borizov enlisted Nodarse to murder the Kramers to prevent them from testifying against Borizov in child-custody proceedings.
Borizov, who remains jailed without bail, maintains he is innocent and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, conspiracy, solicitation of murder and home invasion.
His attorney has said there's no evidence he was involved other than unreliable statements by Nodarse, who has a history of mental illness.
When the trial begins, a television camera will be rolling. It will be the first time a television camera and a still camera will be allowed to document a trial in DuPage.
Nodarse faces 45 years to life in prison and will be sentenced sometime after Borizov stands trial.