Murder trial closes for man accused of throwing mom down stairs
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After eight days of testimony and nearly three hours of closing arguments, friends and relatives of the Weinke family will have to wait a while longer for the conclusion of Wayne Weinke Jr.'s trial on charges of first-degree murder in the 2006 death of his mother Gloria Weinke, 77.
Cook County Judge William Lacy will deliver a verdict May 28, extending by about a month a trial nearly seven years in the making.
Prosecutors say a disagreement with his mother over his inheritance — from an estate which prosecutors valued at between $8 and $10 million — prompted Weinke, 57, known as "Bud," to throw his mother over the railing of her home at The Moorings in Arlington Heights during the early morning of July 18, 2006. Gloria Weinke, who had been diagnosed with cancer in 2005, lay at the bottom of the stairwell for 14 hours before a Moorings employee found her and called for help, prosecutors said during closing arguments Tuesday at Chicago's George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Gloria Weinke died the following October as a result of the injuries she sustained that day, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Sherie DeDore, adding that Gloria Weinke was not near death on the day of the fall and was living on her own and handling the books for the family business, Chicago's Way Ken Contractors Supply Co.
The injuries she received contributed to and hastened her death, DeDore argued.
"She went from vibrant and loving to having no life, lying in bed" and in pain, said DeDore who described the bedridden woman's remaining months spent being shuttled back and forth between the hospital and nursing home.
"It's sad that she had to live the last months of her life as she did but that's not what this case is about," said defense attorney Peter Hickey, who insisted his client was not at Gloria Weinke's home that day and had nothing to do with her tumble down the stairs.
"What happened here was Gloria got injured and (prosecutors) developed a theory that implicates our client," said Hickey, who insisted prosecutors have no evidence to corroborate their claim. "They had a theory and they were going to fit the case to their theory," he said pointing to what he called a lack of DNA and blood evidence and the absence of chest or long-bone injuries consistent with someone being dropped 14 feet. Forensic pathologists earlier testified that Gloria Weinke suffered several broken ribs and a broken pelvis, which required surgery to repair.
Hickey claims Gloria Weinke could not remember details of the alleged encounter during a videotaped deposition that took place in her hospital room several days after the fall.
"I'm not suggesting Gloria Weinke willingly or knowingly lied. I'm suggesting her story is not supported," he said.
Hickey also argued Weinke had no motive to hurt his mother, who Hickey said intended to change her will — which left several parcels of land to her daughter — back to the original terms dividing the estate between all three children.
As for a meeting in a lawyer's office when Wayne Weinke reportedly called his mother a vulgar name, Hickey said that was a momentary flare up, followed by a reconciliation.
"This was never a whodunit. It was a he dunit," said lead prosecutor James McKay, who fumed at the suggestion that Gloria Weinke's injuries were accidental.
"Gloria told everyone who would listen the defendant did it," said McKay, who referred to the deposition during which she clearly and without hesitation named her son as the aggressor.
During his impassioned rebuttal, McKay also addressed the confrontation at the lawyer's office.
"A son who thinks of saying this to his mother is not her son," said McKay. "At no time does that thought enter the mind of a good man. At no time does the thought of picking her up and throwing her over a railing enter the mind of a good man."
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