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New judge assigned in slayings of Naperville children

By Clifford Ward

Special to the Tribune

7:51 PM EDT, November 2, 2012

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A new judge has been assigned to hear the case of a Naperville woman accused of killing her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl she had been watching.

The attorney for Elzbieta Plackowska asked for a substitute to DuPage County Judge John Kinsella, who presided over Plackowska’s bond hearing on Thursday.

In his motion, the attorney, Senior Assistant Public Defender Mike Mara, also requested that the case not be assigned to Judge George Bakalis.

The case was reassigned to DuPage County Judge Robert Kleeman.

Mara declined to comment on why he asked for the judge substitution, and his motion did not cite a specific reason. Motions for a new judge are common and routinely granted if they come within days of an initial court appearance. Both judges named in the motion, Kinsella and Bakalis, have been involved in high-profile cases involving the murder of children.

Bakalis presided over the trial of Marilyn Lemak, who was convicted of the 1999 murders of her three children in their Naperville home. Earlier this year, the judge found Marci Webber not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of her 4-year-old daughter in Bloomingdale.

Kinsella, a former assistant state’s attorney, prosecuted three people convicted in the 1995 murders of Debra Evans — a pregnant Addison woman whose near-term baby was ripped from her womb — and her two children.

After receiving the case, Kleeman agreed to have an interpreter available for Plackowska.

Mara said his client speaks English but would be more comfortable if courtroom proceedings were translated into Polish.

Authorities said this week that she traveled to the U.S. about 12 years ago on a vacation visa and never returned to Poland.

Plackowska was charged Wednesday night with two counts of first-degree murder for the stabbing deaths of her son, Justin Plackowski, and Olivia Dworakowski, whom Plackowska baby sat while Olivia’s mother worked a night shift as a nurse.

Kleeman also granted a motion to release the Plackowska family vehicle, an SUV, to Plackowska’s husband once police and defense investigators are finished processing it for evidence.

Authorities allege Plackowska, 40, killed the children Tuesday night at the Dworakowski residence in Naperville, allegedly because she was angry with her husband.

Prosecutors said that Plackowska ordered the children to kneel and pray before stabbing them dozens of times as they begged her to stop. Two family dogs were also killed in the rampage, police said.

She was arrested later that night after she reportedly appeared, covered in blood, at the residence of friends. Someone there called police.

Plackowska is being held without bail in the DuPage County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 21.

A fund for the Dworakowski family has been set up in care of the Naperville Bank & Trust, with donations accepted at any bank branch or by mail at P.O. Box 294, Naperville, IL 60566. 

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