They still have to write victim impact statements to read during D'Andre Howard's July 9 sentencing, but members of the Engelhardt family said Wednesday they have started to recover from the emotionally exhausting five-day trial that resulted in Howard's murder conviction.
"I remember yesterday thinking, it's already been a long week, and it's only Tuesday," said Jeff Engelhardt, who, like other family members, returned to work Wednesday. "It'll take a while to fully start to recover from all that."
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Faith, friends and family have helped the Engelhardts through the rough patches during the past five years, and Shelly said there is still something, every day, that triggers the memory of her daughter, Laura, 18, her husband, Al, 57, and her mother, Marlene, 73.
The three were murdered by Howard in 2009 in the Engelhardts' Hoffman Estates home after Howard became angry at former fiancee Amanda Engelhardt. Howard was convicted Tuesday of all three murders, as well as attempted murder for stabbing Shelly.
Amanda was not injured during the attacks; Jeff, her brother, was away at college the night his father, youngest sister and grandmother were murdered.
Howard's attorneys say they will file an appeal that likely will center around a Cook County judge's decision not to allow testimony about Howard's childhood abuse and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Howard's lawyers unsuccessfully argued he was legally insane at the time of the murders. He testified he heard voices and was tormented by demons.
Now that the trial is over, Shelly said she might start doing more charitable work in her family's memory, particularly with local domestic violence groups.
For now, the Engelhardts view Tuesday's guilty verdict as a turning point.
"There's a sense of closure now. Hearing a judge read off the verdicts of guilty, it makes a difference. Even if that's what you thought was going to happen," said Jeff Engelhardt. "Just hearing it and seeing it happen makes that sense of closure and justice real."