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The Beacon News (Aurora, IL)

June 13, 2000

Author: Gloria Carr

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP — A Campton Township woman’s murder is a simple case of a man who got into an argument with his wife and beat her to death with a vacuum cleaner tube, prosecutors said Monday.

The defense, however, said the story is more complicated.  Defense attorney Robert Habib said Lambert Knol was under the influence of prescription anti-anxiety drugs and alcohol at the time his wife, Norma, died.

“Lambert could never have done this in his right mind,” Habib said. “Lambert loved his wife. (He) never would have hurt her; he never had hurt her.”

Knol, 66, went on trial Monday before Kane County Judge Donald Hudson.

The charge is first-degree murder.

Norma Knol, a nurse, died from a blunt force trauma in late October or early November of 1998. An autopsy showed she had 68 discernible injuries, including multiple bruises to her skull and torso.

Anger over job loss

Her body was found on the second floor of the couple’s townhome by Lambert Knol’s sister, who had received a phone call from her brother saying his wife was dead, police said.

Norma Knol had just lost her job, and her husband was mad, Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Crimmins said.  The two argued about the job and the fact they had not been having regular relations for a while, Crimmins charged.  The two were married for 38 years and had two children.

Lambert Knol spent several days inside the townhome with his wife’s body, until Kane County sheriff’s deputies were contacted Nov. 3, 1998, Crimmins said.

Knol, a real estate appraiser, told police he moved a potential piece of evidence, a vacuum cleaner extension pipe, away from her body so she would be more comfortable, said Crimmins, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant State’s Attorney Greg Sams.

“Ladies and gentlemen.   It’s a simple case,” Crimmins told the jury.  “A man gets in an argument with his wife.  He beats his wife to death.”

No history of violence

Habib said it was the first time Knol had ever been charged with a crime.  The couple did not have a history of violence or problems in the marriage, Habib said. Knol’s children are expected to testify on his behalf later in the trial.  At the time of the murder, the Knols both had medical problems.

Both were alcoholics who were drinking a half pint to a pint of vodka a day, Habib said. Lambert Knol was taking Xanax, Remeron, Effexor and Tylenol 3, he said.   The combination caused him to become lost in a “shroud” that didn’t lift for 100 hours until the body was discovered, Habib said.

The level of intoxication made Knol unable to appreciate the criminality of his act, Habib said.   Jurors will begin hearing testimony this morning.

Prosecutors and the defense did not complete jury selection until late Monday afternoon, reaching a point where the pool of jurors was exhausted. The last person who remained in the gallery became an alternate juror.

A large number of the people excused from jury duty voiced an inability to be fair and impartial because of personal issues involving alcoholism or domestic abuse.