Victim’s character in question

By Daron Walker

Events of the bench trial of Gerardo Diaz, a legally blind NIU senior charged with voluntary manslaughter, took a turn Thursday as state witnesses questioned the character of shooting victim Robert Lurz.

Diaz and Peter Gogola, another blind NIU student, are charged in connection with the July 22, 1986 death of Lurz, 30, who was shot and killed while attempting to enter Diaz’s Greek Row apartment.

After DeKalb Police Sgt. James Kayes identified several pieces of evidence taken from Diaz’s apartment, First Assistant State’s Attorney Micheal Coghlan brought four witnesses who testified about Lurz’s behavior.

The four witnesses were neighbors of Diaz and Lurz at Greenbrier Apartments, 926 Greenbrier Road, at the time of the shooting.

onald Stewart, a fellow resident and neighbor of Diaz at the Greenbrier apartments, was the first to testify on the nature of Lurz’s character. “He was always showing off and pushing people around. The day before that (the shooting) he threatened to break my back,” Stewart said.

Stewart also told Coghlan that Lurz was “on drugs or drunk” half of the time.

Lurz was living with his mother at the time of the shooting.

Millie Ewers, another neighbor, testified that Lurz once entered the front door of her apartment uninvited and grabbed her 2-year-old greatgrandson.

“Bob was very drunk. He picked up my greatgrandson and held him for 15-20 minutes. The baby was screaming. He (Lurz) was not making good sense in anything he was saying,” Ewers said.

ichard Romez remembered Lurz as being violent. “He was a real violent person. The police had to come about a month before (the shooting). They had to tie him to a stretcher,” Romez said.

omez’s brother William said Lurz slapped his own mother one night. “He was a bully,” Romez said.

Stewart said Diaz asked to use his .357 caliber handgun but Stewart told him Pete’s (Gogola) gun was good enough.

Coghlan said the DeKalb Police and the State Attorney’s office did a thorough job in presenting evidence, which included the apartment’s front door and the rifle found in the bedroom.