A Lake County judge has ruled the rights of a Vernon Hills man charged with murdering his wife were not violated by police when they questioned him.
The decision paves the way for the first-degree murder trial of Ronald Stolberg, 49, to begin May 20. Stolberg is charged with killing Rachel Stolberg, 54, at their home on the 300 block of Farmington Lane on June 7, 2011. If found guilty, he could spend up to 60 years in prison.
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Defense attorneys William Hendrick and Kevin Rosner had argued police did not read Stolberg his Miranda rights after arresting him, then did not give him an opportunity to obtain a lawyer while being questioned about the murder.
But Judge Mark Levitt ruled Thursday that Stolberg played "what can only be described as a cat-and-mouse game" with officers when discussing hiring an attorney.
Levitt also said Stolberg was read his Miranda rights by officers when questioning shifted from a suspicious death to a murder investigation.
"The officers acted appropriately under all circumstances," Levitt said. "Therefore, the motion … is denied."
Authorities said Stolberg became angered by his wife when she poked him awake numerous times in the middle of the night. He grabbed her by the wrist, dragged her to the living room, wrestled her down and wound up on top of her.
Authorities said that action cut off her ability to breathe, killing her.
Stolberg then went to work the next morning.
When he returned home from work that night and saw she hadn't moved, he called police, telling them he thought his wife was fake sleeping on the floor when he left, authorities said.
"We are disappointed by the decision, but we will be vindicated at trial and will press on," Rosner said.
Stolberg was initially free on $3 million bail, but he was sent back to jail in September 2012 after he intentionally cut off his ankle monitoring device. He is held without bail.
Both sides are due back in court on May 6 for a final pretrial hearing.