In a crowded DuPage County courtroom Monday, Angela Kramer vowed to go on with her life.
She said so minutes before a judge handed down a life sentence for Johnny Borizov — her former boyfriend and father of their son — who was convicted of masterminding the murders of her parents and brother.
After reading a poem she had written about her loss, Kramer declared she would no longer consider herself a victim.
"After today, I am going to go on happily with my life," she said.
For Borizov, life from this point forward — barring a successful appeal — will be spent in prison.
"You've taken your last breath of freedom's air," Judge Daniel Guerin told the former Willow Springs resident, who was convicted in May for plotting the murders of Jeffrey and Lori Kramer of Darien and their son, Michael.
Guerin sentenced Borizov to three consecutive life sentences in prison for murder and a 30-year sentence for soliciting the murder of Angela Kramer. Life in prison is mandatory under state law for multiple murder convictions.
The Kramers were shot to death March 2, 2010, during a break-in at their residence by Jacob Nodarse, a friend of Borizov's.
At Borizov's trial, Nodarse, who had a history of mental health and substance abuse issues, testified that Borizov had goaded him into carrying out the shootings. He did so by convincing Nodarse that he had become dangerously entangled in a child custody battle between Borizov and Angela Kramer.
Nodarse was apprehended the day after the shootings and cooperated with authorities. He pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and is due to be sentenced next month.
Angela Kramer was in the family home when the crime happened but avoided detection.
"I can still have flashbacks of myself hiding in my closet so scared and fearful of not knowing whether or not I will be killed as I hear my family screaming for their lives right outside my door," she said in her victim impact statement.
Borizov chose to not directly address the judge before sentencing, but Susana Ortiz, one of his attorneys, read a statement from Borizov in which he maintained his innocence and placed all culpability with Nodarse.
"I will profess my innocence until my last breath," he wrote.
Borizov's attorneys said they plan an appeal.
His sister-in-law, Kate Borizov, testified in his support. His mother, Christina Borizov, told reporters: "My heart goes out to the victims, but my son didn't have any part in this."
Nodarse, the state's key witness at Borizov's trial, described how Borizov befriended him in 2009 around the same time that Borizov's relationship with Angela Kramer deteriorated. Kramer testified that she left Borizov in December 2009 and moved back into her family's home with their infant son.
Nodarse testified that Borizov, in the months before the murders, convinced him that Borizov led a crime crew whose members included murderers. Nodarse said he came to believe that his life and that of his family had become imperiled after becoming embroiled in Borizov's custody fight and that he had no choice but to break into the Kramer residence and carry out the crime.
"Borizov carved Jacob Nodarse into the perfect weapon," Assistant State's Attorney Bernie Murray firstname.lastname@example.org