WHEATON – Jacob Nodarse says the murders he committed on March 2, 2010, were unreal.
"That’s what it felt like I was in – a nightmare,” Nodarse said during his testimony last week at the DuPage County Courthouse. “My mind registered it the very way your mind would register a nightmare.”
Nodarse took the stand in an orange jumpsuit as defense attorneys questioned him on everything from his traumatic childhood to his continued drug use up until the time of murdering Jeff, Lori and Michael Kramer at their Darien home in 2010.
The 26-year-old former Countryside resident has pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the crimes.
Nodarse was calm on the stand. He often sighed, resting his head on his hand as he answered questions from defense attorney Richard Kling.
Testimony from Nodarse – considered a star witness in the trial against his friend, Johnny Borizov, who is accused of orchestrating the murders – wrapped on Tuesday.
When speaking about the murders, Nodarse said reality left him that day in 2010 while he was parked in a parking lot “waiting for the assigned time” before going to the Kramers’ home. After Nodarse shot the three family members to death, he said he drove to Florida to see his sister.
“I’m driving watching the sunrise when suddenly I feel really nervous and panicked,” he said.
Nodarse said he began to have flashbacks of what happened at 3 a.m. that morning when he shot and killed members of the Kramer family. He had a panic attack, then vomited.
Later, Nodarse checked the gun he had previously purchased and had on him.
“I took out the gun, I took out the clip and I saw how many rounds were fired,” he said. “That’s when I realized it was real.”
Prosecutors allege 31-year-old Johnny Borizov of Willow Springs orchestrated the murders of the Kramer family by manipulating Nodarse through fear tactics and manipulation. At the time of the murders, Borizov was in a bitter custody battle with Angela Kramer – daughter of the slayed Lori and Jeff – over their son, Nicholas, and had a deep hatred for Angela’s family, prosecutors said.
Nodarse said he frequently talked with Borizov on the phone, exchanged texts and went on outings with him and Nicholas before the murders occurred.
A month before the Kramers were murdered, Nodarse said Borizov told him to delete all the text messages on his phone, but could not say what the messages consisted of.
“[Borizov] was careful not to say anything extremely incriminating besides stuff like, ‘Jacob, we have to talk about something immediately,’” Nodarse said.
Defense attorneys are focusing the blame on Nodarse for the fatal shootings. They claim a combination of frequent substance abuse and abuse suffered as a child contributed to Nodarse’s decision to commit the murders.
Nodarse entered a guilty plea in 2011. He faces 45 years to life in prison and will be sentenced after the conclusion of the Borizov trial, which could last another two weeks. Borizov has been charged with murder, conspiracy and solicitation.