* This is a truly horrific story…
First, the Canadian man made sure the death penalty had been abolished in Illinois. Then he bugged his victim’s vehicle before tracking her down and shooting her to death. Then he turned himself in. […]
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Smirnov shot the Westmont woman several times in the head and body as she left her office at 122 W. 22nd St. At one point during the shooting, Berlin said, Smirnov reloaded his .40-caliber handgun and kept firing.
“Clearly, it was premeditated,” Berlin said, calling the fatal shooting a “gut-wrenching, senseless crime.” […]
Berlin said that before the defendant’s return to Illinois, he had researched the death penalty and learned it was recently abolished here. He said Smirnov came back to the area with a “preconceived plan to take life.”
Vesel, 36, and Smirnov, who had once served in the Canadian military, had met through an online dating service in 2008, Berlin said, and Smirnov moved to the Chicago area to begin seeing her. But, after what Berlin called a “brief relationship,” Vesel resumed dating a previous boyfriend, the prosecutor said.
Smirnov returned to Canada but began harassing Vesel, who was living in Berwyn, by phone and the Internet, Berlin said. In 2009, Vesel filed a complaint with the Berwyn Police Department stating that Smirnov had threatened to harm her. She did not file for orders of protection in Cook or DuPage counties, Berlin said.
* I called State’s Attorney Robert Berlin this morning with a question. Did Smirnov decide to murder that poor woman before or after he’d researched whether Illinois had a death penalty?
Berlin said he didn’t yet know whether that was the case, but said an analysis of the alleged gunman’s computer will likely provide some answers. “I’m sure it will give us a lot more information.”
Berlin was clearly upset yesterday when he talked to the media…
“Make sure Pat Quinn gets a copy of this story,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Thursday, reacting to Smirnov’s death penalty research. Berlin, a strong advocate of capital punishment, is an outspoken critic of the governor’s recent decision to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.
State’s Attorney Berlin said today that the comment came after the press conference had ended, and that while he didn’t regret saying it, he should’ve said “Governor Quinn.”
“The point I wanted to make,” Berlin said, “is that I want the governor and the General Assembly to be aware of the facts of the case.” Berlin says the state has debated back and forth for years about whether the death penalty is or is not a deterrent to crime. “I think this case proves that it is a deterrent,” he said.
“I do think there’s a good chance that if we still had the death penalty that this victim might still be alive. [Smirnov] might not have gone through with his plan,” Berlin said. Asked, however, if Smirnov had made any direct statements to that effect, Berlin said Smirnov hadn’t specifically said it.
* Obviously, this is a horrible turn of events. We might want to let this play out a little while before we jump to too many conclusions here. And this Smirnov guy is obviously quite disturbed. I can, however, certainly understand Berlin’s frustration and anger with the new law abolishing the death penalty. This is just an awful thing to happen.
So, everybody needs to take a very deep breath before commenting, please. Just because the media is screaming doesn’t mean we have to as well. Thanks.
*** UPDATE *** DuPage state Sen. Kirk Dillard is the first out of the legislative gate to use the case to argue that his colleagues need to at least partially reinstate the death penalty…
Dillard said the state needs to reinstate the death penalty for the “worst of the worst,” which he said were serial killers, murderers of children and people who murder witnesses to crimes.
Dillard specifically mentioned the case of Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville as a reason for the death penalty to be revived. In July 2009, Brian Dugan pleaded guilty to fatally bludgeoning Jeanine on Feb. 25, 1983, after kidnapping her from her home on a day she stayed home sick from school. A jury later sentenced him to death.
This came years after two other men were convicted of Nicarico’s murder, then later cleared. These wrongful convictions became a significant part of the argument in whether to repeal the death penalty.
Dugan already was serving life prison terms for the 1984 murder of Donna Schnorr of Geneva and the 1985 slaying of 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman of Somonauk.