A retired Chicago police officer was found guilty on Wednesday afternoon of firing a single bullet into his wife’s neck in 2017, killing her in the kitchen of their Spring Grove home.
After several hours of deliberation, McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge found 74-year-old Lorin Volberding guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. The charges stemmed from the 2017 death of Volberding’s wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Volberding, whose children were present for each of the three days of trial.
“I am thankful for the verdict of guilty on all counts,” Elizabeth Volberding’s daughter, Jen Tison, said after the trial. “It gives justice to my mother and her life.”
Since the judge also made a finding that Lorin Volberding used a gun to kill his wife, an extra 25 years will be added onto whatever sentence Lorin Volberding receives at his March 25 sentencing hearing. He faces a minimum of 45 years in prison.
“Shooting someone in the head or neck is certainly within the context of intending to cause great bodily harm or death,” Coppedge said.
Defense attorney Henry Sugden asked the judge to find Lorin Volberding unfit for trial and sentencing. The retired officer’s memory loss prevented his attorney from properly defending him, Sugden said.
The issue of Lorin Volberding’s competency to stand trial, however, was settled at a fitness hearing months earlier. In August, jurors heard from two experts with opposing thoughts about Lorin Volberding’s mental fitness. The jury ultimately determined that Lorin Volberding had the mental capacity to stand trial.
“There was no indication there has been a decline in that mental capacity since August 2019,” Coppedge said.
Lorin Volberding, who suffers from dementia, struggled to recall the shooting and his arrest during testimony on Wednesday.
“The first real [recollection] I have of anything is when I was in the jail, I guess,” he testified.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors showed photos and police body camera footage of the Volberdings’ kitchen the day of Elizabeth Volberding’s death. The couple had been celebrating her 68th birthday before they began to argue about selling their home in the 10800 block of Riviera Drive, Lorin Volberding told police.
During a recorded police interview that was played in court on Tuesday, Lorin Volberding told officers his wife threw knives and other kitchen utensils at him as they argued. He then retrieved a loaded revolver from his armoire and fired a single shot into Elizabeth Volberding’s neck, he told police.
There was no testimony indicating whether knives were found at the scene.
Despite what the judge called Lorin Volberding’s “candid” recollection of the shooting to police, when Lorin Volberding took the stand on Wednesday, he didn’t remember shooting his wife.
“It’s not my fault,” he testified. “It just happened.”
When McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs pressed him further and asked who’s fault it was, Lorin Volberding responded, “I don’t know. It could have been an angel. I don’t know.”