Plumbing expert can offer limited testimony in Cusick murder trial

Plumbing expert can offer limited testimony in Cusick murder trial

LaSalle County Judge Cynthia Raccuglia is ruling that a plumbing engineer can testify in the murder-by-drowning case against 51-year-old Ken Cusick, of Ottawa.

However, Julius Ballanco can’t talk about every conclusion he’s made about the case.

After hearing arguments from both sides Wednesday, Raccuglia says that Ballanco can talk about his opinion that Tracy Lynn Cusick couldn’t have drowned in a toilet without someone else holding her head in the bowl.

Ballanco can’t talk about how he thinks bruises on Tracy’s head and neck are consistent with the shape of a toilet bowl or that a mark on her forehead shows that her hand was in between her head and the toilet bowl.

Ken Cusick’s lawyer Ryan Hamer argued that Ballanco shouldn’t be talking about how bodies can and can’t interact with toilets at all.

Judge Raccuglia however agreed with First Assistant State’s Attorney George Mueller that Ballanco’s engineering background deals directly with toilet safety which makes him qualified.

Raccuglia says it’s not her job to decide if what Ballanco is saying about he case is true, just whether he’s qualified.

Judging the weight of what he says is up to a jury.

Hamer didn’t have any comment after the hearing. Mueller says he’s ready for trial.

A jury trial is set to begin on July 15.