Geneva man found guilty of killing wife, staging her death

  • Shadwick King reacts to the verdict Monday night in the 16th Judicial Circuit at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles. The jury found Shadwick King guilty of first-degree murder at the conclusion of deliberations that started Monday afternoon.

    Shadwick King reacts to the verdict Monday night in the 16th Judicial Circuit at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles. The jury found Shadwick King guilty of first-degree murder at the conclusion of deliberations that started Monday afternoon. POOL PHOTO BY SANDY BRESSNER/KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE

  • Kristine Kuester, sister of Kathleen King, reacts to the verdict Monday night in the 16th Judicial Circuit at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles. The jury found Shadwick King guilty of first-degree murder of his wife, Kathleen King, at the conclusion of deliberations that started Monday afternoon.

    Kristine Kuester, sister of Kathleen King, reacts to the verdict Monday night in the 16th Judicial Circuit at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles. The jury found Shadwick King guilty of first-degree murder of his wife, Kathleen King, at the conclusion of deliberations that started Monday afternoon. POOL PHOTO BY SANDY BRESSNER/KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE

  • Shadwick King testifies in his own defense Monday morning at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles. King, 47, is accused of killing his wife, Kathleen M. King, 32, by strangling her at their Geneva home and dumping her body along railroad tracks near their home in the city's first homicide in nearly 40 years, authorities said.

    Shadwick King testifies in his own defense Monday morning at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles. King, 47, is accused of killing his wife, Kathleen M. King, 32, by strangling her at their Geneva home and dumping her body along railroad tracks near their home in the city's first homicide in nearly 40 years, authorities said. POOL PHOTO BY SANDY BRESSNER/KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE

 
 
Updated 3/18/2015 5:30 AM

A Kane County jury Monday night found Shadwick King guilty of strangling his wife in July 2014 and dumping her body on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in Geneva's first murder in nearly 40 years.

The deliberations over the first-degree murder charge had begun Monday afternoon and lasted 5 hours. Prosecutors argued King, 47, of Geneva, killed his wife, Kathleen, 32, in a jealous rage during the early morning hours of July 6 and staged her body to make it look like she was out running when she died.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kathleen's family members and friends, many of whom were holding hands when the verdict was read, let out a collective sigh of relief, and some cried.

"Justice," one of them said as King was taken away in handcuffs.

King, who did not show any outward emotion when the verdict was read, will be sentenced May 6. He faces between 20 and 60 years in prison without the possibility of early release.

Kathleen's family declined to comment afterward, but her father, Kurt Kuester, hugged a court advocate and said, "It's bittersweet. Oh my God."

During the trial, which began two weeks ago, prosecutors showed how King obsessively tracked Kathleen, who struck up an emotional affair via text message and Facebook with a 22-year-old Massachusetts man she met at Army training in Texas earlier that year.

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Defense attorneys pointed to overzealous police and contended Kathleen died from a heart condition.

Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Greg Sams outlined to jurors in his closing arguments earlier Monday how King lied to police about what happened, his knowledge of the man Kathleen was communicating with, and how her injuries and clothing were inconsistent with her actually running and falling on the tracks, where her body was found about 6:39 a.m.

"His story is having to evolve. Why does his story have to evolve? Because he's guilty," Sams told jurors.

"He's misdirecting. He's misleading. He's trying to figure out what (police) knew and what he needs to tell them."

Sams pointed to numerous factors as to why King staged the scene of Kathleen, an avid runner, dying on the tracks: She was wearing loose-fitting, untied shorts; she was not wearing her contact lenses; her underwire bra was twisted and clasped in the back when she normally ran with a sports bra; and she didn't have her iPhone arm band and ear buds with her.

Her pink iPhone, on which she exchanged 3,499 text messages with the Massachusetts man, was propped up on two railroad ties next to her head, which was lying on the steel tracks, Sams said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That phone, in no way, could have fallen in that position," Sams said. "He set that phone down there to have it destroyed, the same way he wanted the body destroyed."

The couple's three kids were spending the night at a relative's house July 5 and the Kings went to a Geneva bar that night. Up until closing time about 2:15 a.m. July 6, they were at the bar, but she was texting the Massachusetts man and even asked him to marry her, according to trial testimony.

Later that morning, King took his wife's phone and sent about a dozen texts to the man, making it seem like she wanted to be with King, according to trial testimony.

Kathleen sent a Facebook message to the Massachusetts man at 5:14 a.m. July 6, saying her husband had her phone and to beware of any odd messages.

King told police his wife went out for a run, but Sams questioned why Kathleen didn't immediately text the Massachusetts man when she got the phone back.

"Do you really think that if she walked out of the house to go for a run, she would have texted?" Sams asked.

Defense attorneys, led by Kane County Public Defender Kelli Childress, suggested Geneva police, who had no experience in their department investigating a homicide, rushed to charge King with murder and then hired high-priced experts to corroborate their theory.

"Science doesn't lie and science can't be bought. Science doesn't have an hourly rate," said Childress, stressing there was none of King's DNA under Kathleen's fingernails that would indicate a struggle.

Childress said there were no witnesses to put King at the scene, no tire tracks or shoe prints leading to the scene, and that King initially told police he and his wife were having problems.

Childress said an intoxicated Kathleen went out to clear her head and a combination of stress and lack of sleep could have triggered Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome, causing her to collapse along the tracks.

"(Police) have all these (theories) because Shad told them, then they went out and verified. They didn't find out anything other than what the defendant told them," Childress said. "This man has truth on his side. They weren't looking for the truth."

Childress declined to comment afterward.

King took the witness stand Monday. He testified about 10 minutes, telling jurors he never hurt his wife in their 12 years together and 10 as a married couple.

"Shad, did you kill your wife?" Childress asked.

"I did not, absolutely did not," King answered.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon called the murder "a classic case of domestic violence."

"Mr. King was angry that his wife had become emotionally involved, perhaps more, with another man and chose the ultimate act of violence to end the relationship. This is no morality play; this is jealousy and rage. Plain and simple, he killed her," McMahon said in a news release. "When we charged Mr. King with murder, I promised that our office would vigorously pursue justice for Kathleen and her family and friends, and the Geneva community. Although we have done that, we cannot erase the emptiness that her friends, family, and particularly her children will continue to feel going forward.

"It is not lost on us that Kathleen's children will now grow up without their parents. That is at least as great a tragedy as Kathleen's murder."

The last murder in Geneva had been in 1975.

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