Edward Cusic said his mother was holding a gun and said, “I’ll send you straight to hell,” before he hit her with a crowbar inside the house they shared in Cedar Rapids.
In a 25-minute jailhouse interview Wednesday, Cusic said he only meant to injure his mother the night she died and claimed he was acting in self-defense. He said he intends to plead not guilty.
Cusic, 44, of Cedar Rapids, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his mother, 68-year-old Anita J. Cusic-Labkon, on Friday evening at 624 Old Marion Rd. NE. He placed a 911 call around 11 p.m. that night and told a dispatcher he had killed his mother with a crowbar after she threatened him with a gun. He was arrested at the scene.
Cusic later told police his mother had come at him with a dagger, so he ran away from her to the garage where he got a crowbar and used it to kill her, according to court documents.
Initially hesitant, Cusic shared his account of what happened Friday night to a reporter. Cusic said his mother threatened to kill him while she had a 9-millimeter handgun in her hand. Asked what specifically prompted him to get the crowbar, he said he didn’t want to get hurt. He said his mother was bipolar and suicidal.
“She carried a .380 in her pocket, she had a 9-millimeter in her room and she had several daggers in her house,” Cusic said. “She was not in her right frame of mind. She couldn’t remember where she put something, and she’d blame someone for taking something, when no one was in the house but me and her. She’d say, ‘Oh, I guess the gremlins took it.’”
Cusic said he struck his mother once with the crowbar and did not intend to kill her. According to court documents, however, Cusic-Labkon appeared to have beaten multiple times, with “obvious signs of blunt force trauma to her face and arm.”
Police found Cusic-Labkon’s body face up on a bed in the back bedroom, with a crowbar between her legs, according to a search warrant filed Tuesday.
Investigators also located a handgun on top of a dresser in the bedroom and a dagger under pillows in the bedroom, according to the search warrant. The document contradicts a criminal complaint filed earlier this week that said “officers…did not find any other weapons at the crime scene.”
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said Wednesday the complaint was based on preliminary information provided by police before the search warrant was executed.
Cusic said he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs Friday night, but said police insisted he was. He said his mother had verbally threatened him before, but she had never done it while carrying a weapon.
Offered a chance to rebut Cusic’s comments, Cedar Rapids police on Wednesday declined to release any more information about the case.
Cusic-Labkon’s family has said Edward moved in with his mother within the last few months, after her former husband, whom she was still living with, died. Cusic, originally from Harrisburg, Ill., said he moved from southern Illinois to help his mother.
Cusic, a criminal justice major during a brief stint at Southeastern Illinois College, had been injured on the job and was not currently employed, family members said.
During the time they lived together, Cusic said they had made plans to travel and to start a garden, but that his mother was “more of a procrastinator.” He said some days they got along, and some days they didn’t speak to each other.
Asked if he loved his mother, Cusic said “Oh, yes.” He also indicated his mother made some decisions while he was growing up that he didn’t agree with.
“She had married and divorced several times as I was growing up, so I kind of had regrets of that,” Cusic said. “When I was 17, she left and moved to Florida, and I was on my own since then.”
Jesse Oldham, Jr., 53, the oldest son of Cusic-Labkon and a half-brother to Edward Cusic, refuted the comments that his mother was suicidal. Oldham said his mother had been trying to get Edward into a rehabilitation center for drug use.
“She loved her kids, she did,” said Oldham, of Great Falls, Mont. “She was trying to do what was right for Ed.”
Cusic denied Wednesday any problems with drugs, and said he had tried to get his mother into a rehab center or nursing home. He said she had issues with prescription and illegal drugs and alcohol.
“She’d wake up every morning, take a shot of scotch with her medication and then start drinking coffee,” Cusic said.
Investigators found six pill bottles in the house, including one that was located on Cusic-Labkon’s chest, according to the search warrant. Cusic would not say what specific kinds of medication his mother used.
“The toxicology reports will prove she was heavily medicated and not in her right state of mind,” Cusic said. “I was defending myself.”