Navy Vet’s Widow Testifies She Saw No Sign of Danger Before Guest Shot Her Husband

CROWN POINT — The wife of a slain Navy veteran testified Tuesday their 165-pound dog didn’t give any indication her husband was in danger before he was fatally shot by a guest in their house earlier this year.

Jessika Lile broke down in tears as she sat on the stand listening to the hysterical 911 call she made in the moments after her husband, 42-year-old Nicholas Lile, was shot to death Jan. 3 in their basement.

Jessika Lile testified Timothy R. Thomas, 40, arrived at her Lowell-area home at the invitation of her female friend, whom Thomas had been dating.

Nicholas Lile showed Thomas around their basement and the two appeared to be “busting each other’s chops” about their military service, Jessika Lile said.

She thought it was just “good-natured” banter, she said.

As she and her friend sat at her bar talking and laughing, she heard a “pop, pop” and turned to see her husband fall to the floor, she said.

“I recall a silhouette running out of the basement,” Jessika Lile said.

Her dog, which had been lying near a pool table, didn’t growl or bark before the shooting, she said.

“He’s a protector,” she said of the dog. “He makes himself known when there’s a threat.”

Thomas, a U.S. Army veteran, met Lake County sheriff’s police outside the Liles’ home.

Thomas claimed Nicholas Lile “started acting crazy,” grabbed him by the throat, threw him down, choked him, punched him, lunged at him and threatened to kill him when he said he would leave Lile’s home, according to court records.

Thomas initially was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter, which alleged he acted in “sudden heat.” Lake County prosecutors filed an upgraded charge of murder in late January, and Thomas pleaded not guilty.

Murder defendants typically are held without bail, unless a court determines the presumption of guilt on the charge is not strong.

Thomas’ attorneys, Ben Murphy and Christopher Cooper, requested an expedited hearing on Thomas’ petition to let bail. Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez scheduled hearings Tuesday through Friday.

Murphy and Cooper will have an opportunity to cross-examine Jessika Lile during Wednesday’s hearing.

Upon questioning from Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Jennie Bell and Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz, Jessika Lile testified she didn’t recall making the 911 call.

“I screamed at the top of my lungs, ‘Call 911!’ and ran to my husband,” she said. “I grabbed him and I hugged him and I tried to tell him everything would be OK.

“I screamed and I cried until I physically felt the life leave his body,” she said. “And I knew that even if help was coming, it was too late.”

This article is written by Sarah Reese from The Times, Munster, Ind. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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