After running over his wife in their garage and calling 911 for help with the "accident," paramedics arrived just in time to see a Crest Hill man stomping in the dying woman's face, police and prosecutors said.
The man, Jerry Nichols, 62, appeared in bond court before Will County Judge Roger Rickmon Monday afternoon. Nichols faces two counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors dropped charges of domestic battery and reckless homicide.
Nichols' wife, Diane Nichols, 57, was taken from their 16040 Arborvitae Circle home to Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where she was pronounced dead at 11:49 a.m. Saturday.
Crest Hill Police Chief Dwayne Wilkerson said detectives have yet to establish a motive for the alleged Saturday morning attack. Both Wilkerson and Will County Assistant State's Attorney John Connor said Nichols has no known criminal record.
Nichols ran his wife over with a four-door Honda, police said. When Nichols called for an ambulance, he said he accidentally hit her with the car, according to police.
But when the ambulance arrived, there appeared to be nothing accidental about the way Jerry Nichols was going after Diane Nichols, Connor said.
"As emergency personnel approached the scene, the defendant was stomping on the victim's face in the garage," Connor said as he asked Rickmon to hold Nichols in the Will County jail on a $5 million bond.
Nichols' attorney, Stephen Murphy of Oak Lawn, pointed out that his client had been a longtime employee of the LaGrange Public Works Department before retiring. Murphy also said Nichols is also a Vietnam veteran, has lived his entire life in Illinois and was married to his wife for 12 years before her death Saturday. Murphy then asked Rickmon for a $100,000 bond.
"That's not going to happen," said the judge, who kept it at $5 million.
"I think the charges are appropriate and so is the bond with regard to this serious crime," Chief Wilkerson said.
One woman wailed outside the courtroom after the hearing. A man with her said the family did not wish to discuss the case.
An autopsy on Diane Nichols was conducted Monday, and the prelimary cause of death was found to be multiple injuries caused by blunt trauma, Will County Coroner Patrick O'Neil said.