Neurosurgeon: 'Significant force' caused brain injury that killed Elk Grove Village mom

  • Timothy Zondlo

    Timothy Zondlo

Updated 5/12/2021 7:08 PM

A neurosurgeon with Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village testified Wednesday that it would "take a significant amount of force" to cause the brain injury that cost Karyn Zondlo her life 2½ years ago.

Dr. Sanjay Yadla treated Zondlo, 46, who was admitted to the hospital on Oct. 7, 2018, and died the next day. He testified for the prosecution in the trial of her husband, Timothy Zondlo, 55, of Elk Grove Village.


Zondlo, who is deaf, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. His attorney says Karyn -- mother of two sons, who was also deaf -- died as a result of an accident after he pushed her out of the way to prevent her from being hit by a falling storage bin. Prosecutors say Zondlo's reckless behavior caused her death and his subsequent inconsistent statements point to his guilt.

After performing a craniectomy to relieve the pressure on Karyn Zondlo's brain, Yadla said he observed a "large, acute, subdural hematoma" or blood clot, an injury that typically results from a violent shaking of the brain as in a sudden acceleration and deceleration.

Yadla said trauma caused that injury as well as a compression fracture to a vertebrae at the base of Karyn Zondlo's neck and, in his opinion, her brain injury was not consistent with a fall.

Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Robert Rodemeyer asked whether a person pushing another person into an object could have caused the injury.

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"I think a push, whether it's into an object or not, could have caused the subdural hematoma or the fracture," Yadla said, adding "it was a significant force."

Under cross examination by Assistant Cook County Public Defender Caroline Glennon, Yadla acknowledged being pushed into an object could cause the brain to shake violently. He further testified an Elk Grove Village police detective told him Timothy Zondlo said he pushed his wife and she struck her head against a garage wall.

Earlier on Wednesday, Cook County assistant medical examiner Dr. Hyejong Song Marshall testified Karyn Zondlo, who was 5'1" tall and weighed 95 pounds, had bruises on her left ear, eye, lower lip, left forearm, left thigh, knees and chest, the latter of which could have resulted from CPR. Marshall determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Karyn Zondlo's manner of death was initially undetermined, said Marshall. But after collecting more information, including information from police investigators and input from colleagues, Marshall determined the manner of death was homicide.

"Circumstances are an important part of the determination," she said.

Testimony continues Thursday in Rolling Meadows.

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