Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Woman admits beating husband
By Charles Keeshan Daily Herald Staff Writer
Daily Herald: Suburban Chicago's Information Source

Posted on January 14, 2003

Abandoning consideration of a battered-woman defense, a Lake in the Hills woman pleaded guilty Monday to charges she viciously beat her sleeping husband in the face with a sledgehammer.

Kelly Dombroski, 34, was sentenced to 15 years in prison as part of a plea bargain reached with McHenry County prosecutors and announced on the day her case was scheduled to go to trial.

With ex-husband Joseph Dombroski looking on, Kelly Dombroski accepted a deal under which she pleaded guilty to armed violence stemming from the Oct. 27, 2001, attack in the couple's Lake in the Hills home. In return, prosecutors dismissed four other charges, including attempted murder, and recommended a sentence of nearly half the 30-year maximum term she was facing.

The charges alleged Dombroski attacked her husband as he lay sleeping in their home, striking him several times on the head and face with a 10-pound sledgehammer. The assault left Joseph Dombroski clinging to life with a skull fracture, broken eye sockets and other severe facial injuries.

Under the terms of her deal, Dombroski will receive credit for time served since her arrest in October 2001, plus day-for-day credit while in prison, meaning she could be free in less than seven years.

The punishment was not severe enough for Joseph Dombroski, who said Monday he suffers from partial blindness and deafness, has lost his senses of taste and smell and experiences frequent headaches as a result of the attack.

"When she gets out she'll still be young and be able to lead a good life," he said. "Mine is ruined forever. Everyday I look in the mirror I'll see these scars."

Joseph Dombroski, who filed for divorce shortly after the attack, said he believes greed was his wife's motivation.

"All I can think of is she did it for the life insurance," he said. "I have no other reason. I guess I'll never know."

Kelly Dombroski declined to make a statement in court Monday.

There have been reports for months that Dombroski was contemplating a battered-woman defense. Police and prosecutors, however, said there was no evidence she had been a victim of domestic violence.

Lake in the Hills police, acting on Kelly Dombroski's claims, initially treated the case as a home invasion, believing someone had broken into the residence and attacked the victim.

However, investigators quickly began to doubt the claim and turned their attention to Kelly Dombroski.

"There were things at the crime scene that didn't add up," Lake in the Hills Deputy Police Chief Larry Howell said. They included no signs of forced entry, phone records showing Kelly Dombroski was home that day when she claimed she was not and the "staged" appearance of the crime scene.

After giving police several more versions of what might have happened to her husband, police said, Kelly Dombroski admitted three days after the attack that she was the perpetrator.

Lake in the Hills police Detective Sgt. Mary Frake, who twice interviewed Kelly Dombroski during the investigation, described her as apathetic.

"Definitely not the grieving wife," Frake said.

Police called the attack one of the most violent they had ever seen.

Although the criminal case is over, the Dombroskis are not through with McHenry County court system. The couple is embroiled in a dispute over custody of their 4-year-old son. Joseph Dombroski is hoping to end visitation between the boy and his mother while she is incarcerated.

The boy, he said, knows little about what is happening.

"He's only 4," he said. "He doesn't understand."

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