Janesville51°

Hearing delayed in contract killing case

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Mike DuPre'
September 23, 2008
— The case against Joseph R. Chrislaw Sr. is in legal limbo.

Chrislaw, 46, of 733 Kellogg Ave., No. 3, Janesville, is charged with two counts of soliciting first-degree intentional homicide.


A preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday was postponed indefinitely. Instead, a status conference was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 30, before Judge James Daley to try to answer questions that have cropped up in the case.


One of the case's open questions is whether Chrislaw will have the preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause that he tried to hire a hit man to kill his estranged wife, Inna M. Cheremisina, 34, and her boyfriend, Janesville City Councilman Yuri Rashkin, 33, as the criminal complaint alleges.


Chrislaw told Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer on Monday that he wants a lawyer for the preliminary hearing.


But another question is whether Chrislaw has any assets to hire a private attorney. Hinging on the answer is whether Chrislaw qualifies for a public defender or a court-appointed attorney or if he must hire a private lawyer.


The State Public Defender's Office still is trying to determine if Chrislaw qualifies for its services, assistant public defender Larry Peterson told Meyers.


Chrislaw, who worked for a local pizzeria, apparently owns property but might qualify for a public defender if his liabilities outweigh his assets, Peterson said.


Chrislaw told Meyers his assets had been frozen and he has no ability to contact anyone from the Rock County Jail, where he remains in custody.


He asked Meyers to reduce his $30,000 cash bond to $15,000 so he could post bail and leave jail to arrange his defense.


"I cannot get professional help right now," Chrislaw told Meyers. "Everything I own has been frozen."


Besides finding an attorney, Chrislaw said he would "probably check into counseling" if he could post bond.


Meyers continued Chrislaw's cash bond at $30,000. But Meyers asked that correctional officers give Chrislaw paper and a pencil so he can communicate with people in the community.


When Chrislaw thought he was talking to a hit man from the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, he in fact was speaking with an undercover Janesville police officer, according to the criminal complaint.


Cheremisina moved in the Rashkin before Chrislaw tried to hire a contract killer, according to the complaint.


Cheremisina filed for divorce Sept. 12, two days after Chrislaw was arrested.


Rashkin's wife, Amy, moved out of the Rashkin home after Cheremisina moved in, according to the complaint.



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