PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A man’s life forever changed nearly four years ago when he saw his wife headfirst in a utility sink at their house.
That’s the message from attorney Christopher McCall who told a Peoria County jury that his client, Michael Vorrath, did everything he could to save his wife on Nov. 23, 2019, including doing CPR for 15 minutes before calling 911.
But Peoria County prosecutors see it differently. First Assistant State’s Attorney David Gast argued to the panel of 12 that Nancy Vorrath had signs of being held down in the basement sink. It wasn’t a suicide, he told them but rather, a murder.
At some point this week, jurors will be asked to decide if Michael Vorrath, a former Journal Star advertising representative, is guilty of first-degree murder in connection with his wife’s death.
Paramedics were called to the house, located 3352 W. Lexington Court, shortly after 1 p.m. after Michael Vorrath’s 911 call.
Nancy had already been taken out of the sink, according to testimony by her husband, and put on the basement’s cement floor. Her glasses, according to McCall, were placed near the utility basin which was full of water.
She was pronounced dead about an hour later. An autopsy indicated she drowned and also had “multiple and significant blunt force injuries, consistent with inflicted trauma,” according to court records.
Testimony Tuesday morning focused on the medications that Nancy Vorrath was taking just prior to her death and the body camera footage of the responding Peoria police officer.
At issue was whether her new medications, designed to treat depression and anxiety, could have made her more unstable and possibly suicidal. Her psychiatrist said that was unlikely and while his changes caused her to take more of one and less of another, the likely outcome of taking the wrong medications was being too jittery and nervous.
But under questioning from Robin Boucher, the doctor did admit such a chance could cause “adverse effects.”
Body camera footage from Peoria Police Officer Robert Allen showed an emotional Michael Vorrath who answered every question posed to him and offered up his wife’s cell phone. He tearfully repeated several times how depression had gripped his wife of 40 years and how he had tried to save her by doing CPR.
Officers went through the house, checking in on his story of taking a shower, which appears to have been checked out. They asked about the score of the Ilinois-Iowa football game that the couple was watching, and they asked him about his wife’s moods.
However, it looks like they are confused by what they saw. A chair Michael Vorrath said his wife was kneeling on at the sink wasn’t there. The woman had burns or bruises on the side of her face. Vorrath wasn’t arrested for another three weeks.
The trial is expected to go through Tuesday.