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Crime & Courts

Prosecutor says Cusick couple had ‘tumultuous’ marriage

State’s attorney wants video used in case

This week, the prosecution laid out details of its case against an Ottawa man charged with murdering his wife.

Kenneth Cusick, 51, was charged in February 2017 with murdering his wife, Tracy Cusick, in 2006 in their Ottawa home. Police said Cusick drowned her in a toilet. Cusick is claiming she drowned on her own, according to La Salle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly. Jury trial is Monday, Nov. 5.

Donnelly has filed a request of Circuit Judge Cynthia Raccuglia to let crime scene analyst Iris Graff, who has been hired by the prosecution, use a PowerPoint presentation as part of Graff's testimony at trial. Donnelly said Graff's presentation and testimony will show it's not possible to accidentally or willingly drown in a toilet.

An engineer experienced in toilet design and function will also testify to this effect, Donnelly said.

Donnelly further wants permission to call Tracy's family and friends to testify Cusick abused Tracy. Donnelly said Cusick had a "tumultuous and hostile marital relationship" with Tracy and Donnelly wants to show jurors a video recording of the couple, which she said will back up her contention Cusick was abusive.

Testimony will indicate Tracy was afraid of Cusick and planned to leave him, and to help herself leave, Tracy was going to get a Postal Service job, according to Donnelly.

Donnelly also noted Tracy made a phone call the night of her death, which figures in the prosecution's case.

While seeking permission to use certain prosecution witnesses, Donnelly wants to bar three defense witnesses from testifying.

Two of the witnesses are expected to say Tracy was prone to losing consciousness. Donnelly said this testimony is irrelevant to the question of drowning in a toilet and would only serve to put Tracy in a bad light.

The third witness would likely testify Tracy once tried to kill herself and sometimes failed to pick up her child from school. Donnelly said this witness was too young at the time to now have reliable recall of those events, and the witness learned of the supposed suicide attempt from Cusick, with no firsthand knowledge.

The next court hearing is Friday. Cusick is out of custody on $500,000 cash bond.

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