A DuPage County judge warned Johnny Borizov not to "get cute" Friday as the triple-murder suspect insisted he needed the weekend to decide whether to take the stand.
"You want me to give a decision with my life, and I can't do it," Borizov said.
Judge Daniel Guerin twice asked if Borizov wanted to testify, then concluded his indecision would be taken "as a 'no,'" to which Borizov said: "Those are your words, sir."
That's when the judge snapped back.
"Don't play with me," he said. "When you're up here talking to the court, don't get cute."
"You tell me now," Guerin continued. "Do you want to testify or not?"
Borizov leaned toward the bench: "I don't know, sir. They can't make me do something I don't want to do. I need to get some sleep, think about it, think about everything."
Guerin reluctantly agreed to give Borizov the weekend to talk it over with his attorneys and family "so there's no issue." He said he was "disappointed" with Borizov's indecision after three years of court dates and a month of testimony and jury selection. He said he also wanted to be considerate of the jury, which was not present for the exchange.
"I would prefer this go differently," Guerin said.
The drama capped a rocky day for Borizov, who was also chided first thing in the morning, after he was brought to court about 20 minutes late.
Guerin said he heard Borizov had been "dawdling" in the jail and warned that a "drag order" to bring him to court could be issued if it turned out he caused the delay.
"It wasn't my fault, sir," Borizov said, again outside the jury's presence.
In between the exchanges -- among the first times Borizov has spoken in open court -- jurors heard from Dr. Mark Mills, a forensic psychiatrist and key defense witness.
Mills opined that Borizov's co-defendant, Jacob Nodarse, was "intermittently psychotic" in and around March 2010 when he fatally shot three members of Borizov's ex-girlfriend's family.
"He was out of touch with reality," Mills said.
Nodarse, who pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder, has testified that Borizov persuaded him to fatally shoot Jeffrey and Lori Kramer and their 20-year-old son Michael.
The killings in Darien happened as tension mounted in a child-custody battle between Borizov and Michael Kramer's sister, Angela, who survived the shootings by hiding in a closet.
Nodarse said Borizov led him to believe Michael Kramer, a onetime friend, had hired someone to kill Nodarse and his family because Nodarse could be called as a witness at a custody hearing. He said he also was led to believe Borizov ran an underground criminal enterprise whose members wanted Nodarse to demonstrate his loyalty by killing someone.
On cross-examination by prosecutors, Mills acknowledged a jailhouse recording of Borizov talking to Nodarse about Michael Kramer, gangs and murder, but maintained delusions or hallucinations shaped Nodarse's beliefs around the time of the murders.
"Even if Mr. Borizov said some provocative and frightening things, Mr. Nodarse misconstrued those in his psychotic illness," Mills testified.
Borizov, 31, of Willow Springs, is expected to announce whether he will testify in his own defense when he the trial resumes Tuesday. Guerin told jurors the case should conclude next week.