Algonquin teen gets 18 years in prison in shooting of father
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News March 13, 2013 1:54PM
David Szalonek of Algonquin
Updated: April 15, 2013 11:25AM
ST. CHARLES TWP. — Jerilyn Szalonek hasn’t been able to hug her son for three years.
On Wednesday, she asked a Kane County judge for permission to visit — and possibly have a chance to hug — her son before he begins serving an 18-year sentence for the Feb. 8, 2010, shooting death of his father and her husband.
David Szalonek, 19, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to second-degree murder in the death of Brian D. Szalonek, 50. Circuit Judge James C. Hallock accepted the plea.
Due of the plea of guilty but mentally ill, David Szalonek will get the mental health help he needs, said his attorney Brian Telander. With credit for the three years David has served in both the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center and the Kane County Jail, he could be released in four to six years, depending on the outcome of his mental health treatment, Telander said.
David Szalonek had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2008 and was depressed at the time of the shooting, which came after an hours-long argument with his father at their Algonquin home, Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Monaco said during the sentencing hearing.
Brian Szalonek, David told investigators, had struck his son several times during that argument. In 1997 and in 2004, according to McHenry County court records, Jerilyn S. Szalonek had filed orders of protection against her husband.
David Szalonek’s mental health and emotional problems had been recorded by his school.
Barred from school
Just a month before the shooting, David, then 16, had been barred from attending classes at Jacobs High School in Algonquin, where he was a freshman and in the school’s special education program, He had threatened to kill himself if a classmate did not break up with her boyfriend to date him, Monaco said.
On his Facebook page, he had written cries for help, including that he was on a “highway to hell,” and “why has everyone forgotten me,” Monaco said.
On a classmate’s notebook, he’d simply written “Help me,” she said. He’d made other statements to friends and on his Facebook page that “things were going to end soon,” and about other suicidal thoughts, Monaco said.
On the day that Jerilyn was supposed to meet with David’s teachers about his suspension, on Jan. 18, 2010, she had forgotten the appointment, Monaco said.
When she did make a later, Feb. 5 appointment, she told school counselors that David was now getting outpatient treatment for his mental health problems. According to Telander, David was never given medication for his depression or the Asperger Syndrome, as his parents were concerned it would aggravate a pre-existing heart condition.
In 2009, he had been hospitalized for depression and suicidal idealizations, Monaco said, and doctors recommended medication, Monaco said. Again, his parents decided no, she said.
At one point, David told his parents he was sexually molested by a family member. No charges were ever brought, Monaco said, and no services were offered to David.
Staff at Jacobs High School told his parents that David had been using a pen to gouge a hole in one of his fingernails. Telander described that behavior as “cutting.”
When David decided to shoot his father, it was following “strong, intense provocation,” Monaco said.
The fight, according to David, was about access to his laptop computer and his Facebook page, Monaco said. The fight — which took place while only the two of them were at home — went on for two to three hours.
Brian went to bed and David, Monaco said, watched the horror film “Saw II.”
Several shotguns used for hunting were locked in the home’s library, and shells were kept elsewhere, she said. But sometime after 6 p.m., David found an unlocked shotgun, loaded it, and went into his father’s bedroom.
He turned on the light, waking his father who attempted to flee into the bathroom. He shot his father in the head, set the gun down, and walked to a friend’s house. There, he told the friend what he had done, and the girl’s mother called police, Monaco said.
David gave several admissions to police following the arrest, and met with the director of the DuPage County Mental Health Center shortly after his arrest, according to Monaco.
The Kane County State’s Attorney Office has been understanding and compassionate as the case progressed through the court, Telander said.
Jerilyn, he said, had mixed feelings. “She is a mother first, but she also lost a husband.”
A release issued after the hearing by the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office noted that after the murder, a forensic psychiatric evaluation of David Szalonek was conducted by an expert in the treatment of mental disorders and forensic psychiatry.
During the interview, the release said, David said he felt he had no way to control his anger at home, that if he hurt himself he would not hurt others, that people treated him poorly and did not care about him, that he felt betrayed, that he and his father did not get along, and that either he or his father would die within a month.
The psychiatrist determined that the mental illness had a profound impact on the David’s mental state at the time of the murder and that a failure to treat the mental illness played a significant role in David’s decision to commit the murder, according to the release.
According to Illinois law, Szalonek is eligible for day-for-day sentencing. He was given credit for at least 1,130 days served in the Kane County jail, where he had been held since his arrest in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
Because Szalonek’s plea was guilty but mentally ill, he is eligible to receive treatment for mental illness at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Corrections, prosecutors said.
“After extensive consultation with the Algonquin Police Department and mental health experts, and given the defendant’s history of mental illness, as well as the history of abuse against this victim within his home, we believe this is an appropriate disposition,” State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said in the release. “I am hopeful that this defendant will undergo the psychiatric treatment he needs and, when he is released from prison, he will be able to peacefully function in society.
“My thanks to the Algonquin Police Department, to the Illinois State Police and to Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Monaco, who worked many hours on this difficult and tragic case.”