$3 million bail for optometrist charged in Schaumburg slaying
Bail was set at $3 million Thursday for an Algonquin eye doctor who authorities say stabbed his girlfriend to death in November in the woman's Schaumburg home.
Anthony R. Prate, 55, who had optometry offices in Barrington and Lake Zurich, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Malgorzata B. "Margaret" Daniel, 48.
He would have to post 10%, or $300,000, to be released pending trial. He would live with his mother in Tinley Park, have to wear a GPS device and be subject to electronic home monitoring, Associate Judge Steven J. Gaebel ruled.
Prate's 19-year-old son, Nicolas, and 17-year-old daughter, Ava, testified at the hearing at the Rolling Meadows courthouse. So did his sister, a niece and an ex-girlfriend.
Nicolas called his father "a good community guy." Ava said her dad was "funny, loving, energetic and encouraging," and that he was a favorite dad among her friends.
The ex-girlfriend, Meritza Witte, said they dated for almost five years after the death of his wife and remained friendly.
She described herself as "hot-tempered" and prone to picking arguments but said Prate was never violent with her. Asked if she feared for her safety if he were to be released from jail, she replied, "Oh God, no. Because there is no way he would do this."
Nicolas Prate, who is attending college, admitted under questioning from Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Denise Loiterstein that the children still have access to their father's money.
Nicolas Prate also confirmed that in a call from his police jail cell, the elder Prate said the children would be taken care of because the mortgage on their house was paid off and money was set aside for their college educations.
Prate's attorney, Sam Amirante, asked for bail of $1 million. Loiterstein objected to Prate's being allowed out on bail at all.
"He's not a criminal at all. Who else is in danger here?" Amirante argued.
Loiterstein said they were discussing bail only because Prate used a knife, not a gun. "This defendant does not deserve a bond. And electronic monitoring is a luxury," she said.
In a 911 call released by police, Prate said he and Daniel had a fight and that Daniel stabbed him first.
Authorities say Prate stabbed Daniel 20 to 30 times in the early morning of Nov. 23 after a dinner party she hosted at her house on Arbor Glen Boulevard the previous night. Prosecutors say the guests discussed the topic of their father's death, which appeared to upset Prate, who left the room for a long period and returned noticeably agitated.
About 1:30 a.m., police say, Prate called 911 indicating Daniel was "gravely wounded."
When police officers arrived at the house, they found Daniel in the kitchen, not breathing.
A medical examiner ruled Daniel's death a homicide.
Loiterstein said there were wounds to her back, chest, legs, arms, and her right side.
Loiterstein said that before calling 911, Prate texted his daughter at 1:08 a.m., writing, "I love you very much. I'm sorry. Something very bad has happened." He then texted his son the same message, adding that Daniel had tried to stab him, Loiterstein said.
The case sparked the interest of McHenry County authorities, who announced Dec. 9 they are monitoring the Schaumburg investigation to determine if any information from it relates to the death of Prate's wife, Bridget Prate, who was pronounced dead after a March 2011 car crash in Lake in the Hills.