Suspect’s mental state debated — (Daily Herald)

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Daily Herald

By Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer

Posted December 10, 2003

An Aurora woman accused of killing her husband and wounding their two daughters during a Christmas Day shooting spree often questions whether her slain mate still is alive.
Sungnam Kwon Lisowski also claims she heard her husband’s voice speaking to her as she lay in a hospital bed while recovering from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
New details about the 42-year-old woman’s thoughts were revealed Tuesday as medical experts weighed in on whether she is mentally fit to stand trial.
DuPage Circuit Judge Michael Burke may decide Thursday if Lisowski understands the nature of the legal proceedings against her and can assist in her defense.
The experts agree Lisowski suffers from severe depression. She has taken a mix of anti-depressants during more than 10 years of treatment. Still, they disagree whether Lisowski’s mental state prohibits her from understanding the criminal charges and court procedures.
James Corcoran, the jail’s chief psychiatrist, has spent the most time with Lisowski during 14 interviews. Corcoran argues she is unfit but that her condition most likely will improve within one year with proper treatment at a mental hospital.
He testified Lisowski told him during their most recent interview Monday that she didn’t know she faced murder charges despite nearly one year of incarceration. She also questioned whether her husband, John, still is alive.  “They say I killed my husband,” Corcoran quoted her as saying. “I just don’t believe it.”
Lisowski, who owned a small Naperville gift shop, has pleaded innocent. Her attorney, Jack Donahue, began questioning her mental state shortly after her arrest.
But prosecutors Jane Radostits and Joseph Ruggiero contend Lisowski murdered her husband during a premeditated plot because he planned to leave her for another woman. Though Lisowski has questioned whether her husband is dead, prosecutors said she admitted killing her cheating husband when talking to a hospital nurse.
“Wouldn’t you do the same?” Radostits quoted Lisowski as asking the nurse.
Two prosecution experts, Orest Wasyliw and Philip Pan, have found Lisowski fit. Pan testified Tuesday that he viewed Lisowski’s vague comments about her husband as “wishful thinking” rather than delusions.
“It’s not like she’s completely lost,” he said. “If she truly believed he hadn’t died, she wouldn’t be so depressed about her situation. She would have more hope.”
Both Corcoran and Wasyliw played key roles in the Marilyn Lemak case. Lemak is the Naperville mother convicted of killing her children in 1999 in an act of spite against her estranged husband and his girlfriend.
In that high-profile case, the mental-health experts played similar roles. Wasyliw, the prosecution expert, found she was fit to stand trial. Corcoran contended she suffered from delusions during her incarceration.
Donahue, who also represented Lemak, initially argued she was unfit for trial. After Lemak underwent five months of treatment and began taking strong psychotropic drugs, the defense reversed its position.
Lisowski is being held in segregation in the DuPage County jail. She faces first-degree murder and attempted murder charges for the shootings in her former home on the 1400 block of Green Lake Drive in Aurora.
Judge: Lemak case had parallels with current one