Naperville mom accused in child slayings to get mental exam
A DuPage County judge ordered a psychiatric exam Tuesday for a Naperville woman accused in the horrific stabbing deaths of her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl left in her care.
State's Attorney Bob Berlin sought the evaluation for 40-year-old Elzbieta Plackowska in anticipation of a possible insanity defense, based on her statements to investigators.
Judge Robert Kleeman granted the request over the objection of Senior Assistant Public Defender Mike Mara, who asked the matter be postponed while the defense conducts its own investigation.
Kleeman said the law allows prosecutors to move ahead when there's a "reasonable belief" that a defendant might raise an issue of insanity.
"They (prosecutors) do have an interest in having an evaluation, and I do find that time is of the essence," he said.
Prosecutors want Plackowska examined as close as possible to the date of the Oct. 30 slayings in Naperville.
"It's important to know what's going on in the defendant's mind as close to the time of the crime as possible," Berlin said. "We filed this motion because we believe the defense will use the defense of insanity -- not because we believe there's any validity to that defense."
The psychiatrist tapped by the prosecution, Alexander Obolsky, could begin examining Plackowska within days, Berlin said. Obolsky testified last month in the high-profile Lake County trial of Daniel Baker. A judge rejected the doctor's view that Baker was insane when he fatally beat his girlfriend's mother with a baseball bat.
Also Tuesday, Kleeman and the attorneys informally moved forward with a request to allow the media to cover Plackowska's Nov. 21 arraignment with cameras inside the courtroom. If Kleeman grants the request, it would be the first time in the Chicago metropolitan area that cameras have been allowed into a trial court since the Illinois Supreme Court began allowing it on an experimental basis earlier this year.
Berlin raised some logistical concerns about whether cameras would be obtrusive but, otherwise, no objections were made. Kleeman is expected to rule on Nov. 20 after he and other parties in the case meet with the media to see how the cameras would be set up.
"Disruption of the proceedings is not acceptable," Kleeman said.
Plackowska is accused of slaying the children as she watched them inside the younger victim's Naperville home. Prosecutors said her son, Justin, was stabbed close to 100 times, while kindergartner Olivia Dworakowski, whom Plackowska was baby-sitting, was stabbed about 50 times.
Berlin said he believes Plackowska could raise an insanity defense based on her statements to investigators that she was "battling the devil" and trying to "drive evil" out of the children, even as they begged for their lives.
Plackowska later told police those statements were lies and she really just wanted to get back at her husband, Berlin said.
Mara declined to comment on his client's alleged statements, saying he's still waiting to receive police reports and other discovery materials. He expects to receive thousands of pages, along with several photos and videos pertaining to the case, at arraignment.
"Basically everything that's come out is what (prosecutors) say the facts are," Mara said. "I don't have any of that."