New trial for caretaker accused of killing elderly man

SHARE New trial for caretaker accused of killing elderly man

Albert Domagala/ Cook County Sheriff’s Office

A Jefferson Park man who has been behind bars for 12 years for the murder of a senior citizen was granted $250,000 bail Thursday by the same Cook County judge who ruled that he should be given a new trial because of his original lawyer’s “ineffective assistance.”

Albert Domagala was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2005 for the murder of 84-year-old Stanley Kugler.

Domagala, who was Kugler’s live-in caregiver at the time of his death in October 2003, was allegedly seen attacking the elderly man before paramedics were called. Kugler died 15 days later.

Domagala has argued that during his trial, his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, failed to effectively argue that it was gross negligence by the treating medical staff — and not Domagala’s actions — that caused Kugler’s death.

Judge Kevin Sheehan agreed and ruled Monday that Domagala, now 42, should be given a new trial, according to court records.

Greenberg, one of several prominent lawyers who also represented Drew Peterson during the former Bolingbrook cop’s high-profile murder trial, declined comment Thursday.

In Sheehan’s courtroom earlier, Assistant State’s Attorney Margaret Ogarek read the accusations against Domagala.

On the night of Oct. 6, 2003, a neighbor and her husband had called another resident — a police officer — after they saw Domagala allegedly put his arm against Kugler’s throat and slap him so hard his head “went back.”

The officer also saw Domagala press his forearm against Kugler’s throat several times from his neighbors’ window, prosecutors said.

When the officer went next door, he found Kugler sitting on the toilet with his pants down, crying, court documents said. The officer could see red marks on Kugler’s throat and he called paramedics.

The paramedics placed a rigid cervical collar on Kugler’s neck. And the next day, a swallowing test was conducted while Kugler was wearing the hard brace.

That test shouldn’t have been performed with the collar on, Domagala’s new attorney, Daniel Coyne, said.

After that test determined Kugler had dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, doctors ordered that a feeding tube be placed in his abdomen. The feeding tube punctured Kugler’s colon and caused an infection, Coyne said.

Kugler died at a nursing home in Oak Lawn as a result of the infection on Oct. 21, 2003.

Greenberg should have hired an otolaryngologist–a doctor who specializes with the ear, nose and throat, Domagala had said in previous filings. The two doctors Greenberg retained for the trial never mentioned such a medical expert, a source said.

Domagala allegedly admitted he lashed out at Kugler because he had taken off his bandages. He had just started working for Kugler three months before and knew the man had suffered a prior heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, internal bleeding and a broken hip, Ogarek said.

Coyne, who was accompanied in court Thursday by Domagala’s cousin, said the family is trying to determine if they can post his bond.

Domagala studied accounting and management in his native Poland and was certified as a barber while in prison, Coyne said.

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