Daily Herald

March 06, 2003

Woman pleads innocent to killing husband, shooting two daughters

By Christy Gutowski
Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
Chicago Daily Herald
Posted March 06, 2003

A woman accused of opening fire on her family last Christmas in Aurora pleaded innocent Wednesday during her arraignment.

A trembling Sungnam Lisowski bowed her head, her handcuffed hands folded in front of her, during a brief court appearance.

She is accused in a 33-count indictment of murdering her husband, 46-year-old John Lisowski, and shooting her two daughters during a premeditated assault after her marriage crumbled.

A judge also ordered Lisowski, 41, to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is fit to stand trial. Two mental health experts will interview the defendant in jail in the coming weeks.

Her attorney, Jack Donahue, said he has "bona fide doubts" about whether Lisowski understands the nature of the legal proceedings against her and if she can assist in her defense.

Initially, Lisowski was on a 24-hour suicide watch in the jail, where she is being held without bond. She is being treated by the jail's chief psychiatrist, James Corcoran, and is on anti-depressant medication.

Though it's too early for Donahue to outline a defense, the attorney is digging into his client's years growing up in South Korea to see if she has a history of mental health problems.

Prosecutors accused Lisowski of shooting her husband five times early Christmas in their home in the Stonebridge neighborhood. She then burst into an upstairs bedroom, officials said, and opened fire on her two daughters, Christine, 12, and 14-year-old Vickie. Both girls survived.

Police arrived minutes after Christine called 911. The terrified girls waved to authorities through an upstairs window after locking themselves in a bedroom. After breaking into the locked front door, police found John Lisowski slumped over his computer desk.

Officers found Sungnam Lisowski in an upstairs bedroom. She had fired the final two shots at herself in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. The revolver was at her side.

Lisowski bought the gun shortly after her husband of 19 years told her in an e-mail that he was romantically involved with another woman and wanted a divorce, prosecutors said.

© 2003 Daily Herald, Paddock Publications, Inc.