Ex-Joliet teacher’s murder case delayed over pretrial issues

Prosecutors are seeking to disqualify the longtime attorney for a former Joliet teacher charged with murdering his wife after he argued his client’s constitutional rights were violated by the police.

The first-degree murder case against Michael Kazecki, 44, of Oak Lawn, has been in pretrial purgatory for five years and seven months. The case was set to go to trial on Feb. 26 but that was postponed following a motion from Kazecki’s attorney, Nathaniel Tate, that claimed his client’s constitutional rights were violated.

In 2018, Kazecki was charged with the first-degree murder of his wife, Rebecca Kazecki, 38, by physically striking her body between Aug. 4 and Aug. 6 of that year. Kazecki also has been charged with the aggravated domestic battery of his wife.

Both Rebecca and Michael worked as teachers in Joliet Public Schools District 86. Michael Kazecki’s position with the district was terminated in 2020.

Nathaniel Tate, who’s been Kazecki’s attorney since the case was filed, said in an Oct. 4 motion that his client’s statements made while in the custody of Joliet police detectives should be suppressed.

Tate argued a police sergeant repeatedly denied his request to meet with his client and Kazecki was not properly informed that his attorney was retained for him by his family.

After waiting for Kazecki at the police department, Tate said he was told by the sergeant that Kazecki did not wish to speak with him.

“[Kazecki’s] due process right, as constitutionally protected by the Constitution of the State of Illinois, were violated by the Joliet Police Department when they failed to allow him an opportunity to consult with his counsel and further when they failed to adequately provide [Kazecki] information to make a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of his right to counsel,” Tate’s motion said.

Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Krone said in a motion on Friday that Tate should be disqualified as Kazecki’s attorney because his motion to suppress evidence shows he’s an advocate and a witness in the case.

Krone said the Illinois Supreme Court’s rules of professional conduct prohibit an attorney from acting as both advocate and witness.

Krone further said at least one police officer “will testify contradictorily to some of the factual assertions” in Tate’s motion to suppress Kazecki’s statements while in custody.

Krone’s motion is set for a hearing on March 25. Tate was allowed to file a new version of his motion to suppress statements by that date. The latter motion may have a hearing on May 7.

Rebecca Kazecki worked at Gompers Junior High School for 14 years, including as an eighth-grade special education teacher.

Michael Kazecki was working as English language arts teacher for seventh- and eighth-grade students before his arrest.