Burlington murder trial focuses on cluttered home; experts coming next

  • Daniel Rak is one trial on charges he murdered his father in Burlington Township in February 2016.

    Daniel Rak is one trial on charges he murdered his father in Burlington Township in February 2016.

 
 
Updated 7/19/2017 8:12 PM

The trial of Daniel Rak, accused of killing his father in his Burlington Township home in February 2016, focused Wednesday on the dirty, cluttered conditions in the home and medications in the elder Rak's bedroom.

Prosecutors argue Daniel Rak, 31, punched his father because he had walked in on his girlfriend in a bathroom and those injuries ultimately and caused Jeffrey Rak's death two days later on Feb. 14, 2016.

 

The autopsy showed Rak had a large pool of blood on his brain.

Defense attorneys contend Jeffrey Rak, 58, was an alcoholic with myriad other health issues. Rak fell frequently because of drinking and seizures, and those falls -- not his son's own hands -- caused his death, they argue.

Wednesday's testimony from crime scene investigators called to the elder Rak's home on the 13N0-99 block of Engel Road near Sycamore demonstrated Jeffrey Rak's alcoholism and part of the fight between the two.

Police testified to a cluttered, filthy home in which numerous empty vodka bottles were found near and around Jeffrey Rak's body, along with another batch of empty bottles underneath his bed. There were several boxes of assorted medications in Jeffrey Rak's room; prosecutors noted a lot of the prescription bottles were either empty or not used by Rak and were therefore irrelevant.

Jurors saw pictures of the home, which was extremely dirty and unsanitary, as well as photos of Rak's body. He had two swollen, black eyes, and blood ran from his nose while he was face down before paramedics turned him over to try to resuscitate him. There also were blood stains on pillow cases and droplets on a wall, the photos showed.

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Rusty Sullivan, a member of the Kane County Major Crimes Task Force and lead forensic investigator in the case, explained to jurors the methodology of assessing a crime scene and how he works with his team to ensure the physical evidence is paramount.

"If you go in close-minded to a crime-scene investigation, you're doing everybody a disservice," Sullivan said.

The trial likely will wrap up next week. Defense attorneys plan to call three medical experts and prosecutors have at least one expert who also needs to testify.

Jurors also need to watch the six-hour video recording of Rak's interview with sheriff's investigators. Attorneys were working to stipulate to parts of the interview so jurors could watch the key parts.

Rak has been held at the Kane County jail on $950,000 bail since his arrest in June 2016; if convicted of first-degree murder, he faces between 20 and 60 years in prison with no chance of early release.

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