Man faces trial in contract killing case
JANESVILLE Joseph R. Chrislaw Sr.’s defense to charges that he tried to have his estranged wife and her boyfriend killed apparently will be that he tried to back out of a deal that he is charged with making with an undercover cop.
Chrislaw, 46, of 733 Kellogg Ave., No. 3, Janesville, is charged with two counts of soliciting first-degree intentional homicide. He was bound over for trial Friday in a preliminary hearing. Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.
Chrislaw remains in custody at the Rock County Jail in lieu of $30,000 cash bond—$15,000 on each charge. His next court date has not been scheduled.
Chrislaw tried to a hire a hit man from the Hells Angels motorcycle gang to kill his estranged wife, Inna M. Cheremisina, 34, and her boyfriend, Janesville City Councilman Yuri Rashkin, 33, the criminal complaint against him charges.
Janesville police officer Richard Mussey testified that he posed as a contract killer from the Hells Angels and met with Chrislaw to arrange the murders and take money for them.
Mussey testified that he met Chrislaw once face to face in the parking lot of a Janesville bar and that Chrislaw handed him a stack of cash.
Mussey said he asked the amount and Chrislaw said, “Two.”
“I said, ‘Two grand?’” Mussey testified. “He said ‘yes.’”
But in cross-examination, Chrislaw’s defense attorney—Bob Junig of Beloit—asked Mussey if he had a subsequent phone conversation with Chrislaw. After the officer replied yes, Junig asked if Chrislaw expressed any second thoughts about the deal.
“What he told me was that it couldn’t be this weekend,” Mussey said.
“Did he tell you at any point to just keep the money and forget it?” Junig asked.
“Yes,” the officer replied.
Junig then established that the phone conversation had been recorded.
Assistant district attorney Tom White told the court that withdrawal from an agreement is a proper defense for a conspiracy charge but not a proper defense for a solicitation charge, which is what Chrislaw is accused of.
“Why did he need more time?” White asked Mussey.
“I asked him (Chrislaw) was it the alibi, and he said yes,” Mussey replied. “I said I got the 2,000 bucks and I’m not sticking around.”
Before Mussey testified, Ken Petersen of Janesville testified that Chrislaw approached him about contacting the Hells Angels to hire a hit man to “whack” his estranged wife and her boyfriend.
Chrislaw told him the murders would have to be on a weekend because that’s when Rashkin’s daughter would be out of the home staying with her mother, Petersen testified.
Junig asked Petersen if Chrislaw got cold feet about the killings.
“I asked him several times if he was sure, and to my recollection, he was,” Petersen said.
Junig asked Petersen if Chrislaw ever mentioned calling it off.
“No,” Petersen said.