Stepfather Abused Teen, Lawyer Says

Posted: December 04, 1990

Edward Christopher Sukol, 14, was on the verge of suicide when he turned his gun on his abusive stepfather and killed him on Aug. 30, 1989, Sukol's defense attorney said yesterday.

In a motion filed in Montgomery County Court, attorney Thomas Johnson said his client was relentlessly abused, physically and psychologically, with punishments ranging from beatings - sometimes five a week - to belittling him in front of teachers and friends.

The boy, who lived with his stepfather in Massachusetts, was terrified to tell anyone for fear he would be killed - or, to him even worse, put in a mental hospital, according to two psychiatrists' reports attached to the motion.

Even when the Massachusetts Department of Social Services investigated a neighbor's complaint about the abuse, Edward Sukol refused to tell, according to court papers.

Johnson asked Montgomery County Judge Joseph A. Smyth to reconsider his decision to try Sukol, now 16, as an adult on murder charges.

Smyth agreed to hold another hearing on the matter and postponed Sukol's trial, which had been scheduled to start yesterday. Smyth will hear arguments Dec. 17 on whether to transfer the trial back to Juvenile Court.

If Sukol were found guilty and jailed as a juvenile, he would be released when he turns 21. If convicted as an adult, Sukol could face life imprisonment.

Sukol admitted to Cheltenham police that he shot his stepfather, David N. Sukol, 35, with a .357 magnum he had stolen from the parents of a friend. According to police, Sukol and his stepfather had been quarreling while they were visiting David Sukol's mother in her plush Melrose Park apartment.

David Sukol, a computer consultant with the Amherst, Mass., public school system, died of a single bullet wound to the chest.

According to police affidavits, David Sukol planned to move to Ecuador with Edward and his brother, Josh, 10, and had brought the boys to visit their grandmother on the eve of their departure.

Edward Sukol told psychiatrists he had stolen the gun because he wanted to shoot it and because he was considering suicide.

According to psychiatrists' reports, Sukol said he became despondent on Aug. 30 after his father "pinned him down and grinded his face into the couch." He took out the gun to kill himself and his stepfather walked in. He feared his stepfather would see the gun and beat him, so, Sukol said, he shot him.

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