Bitter family court battle occurred just before prominent attorney's murder

FOX 32 has new details regarding the Winnetka man accused of killing his brother-in-law, a prominent attorney, in Northfield last week.

Court records point to a bitter family fight which ended just weeks before the murder.

“For the last several months, Joan Shapiro had agreed to financially support the defendant, her brother, while family lawsuits were pending,” said Andreana Turano, assistant state’s attorney.

That's all prosecutors would say -- "family lawsuits" as the reason that John Gately III was living off his older sister Joan. He allegedly murdered her husband Stephen Shapiro when she threatened to end her support. But why was she supporting him in the first place?

Records obtained by FOX 32 News say John Gately's mother has dementia. His brother and three sisters have been battling over the mother's estate, including how much money John should get for support.

Records show that for years, Gately's mother paid him $2,000 a month because he suffered from alcoholism and couldn't hold a job. But two of Gately's four siblings, Clifford and Susan, claimed in court that the payments to John were loans which had to be paid back, and that future payments should be considered loans.

The dispute ended in late July when a judge ruled against the two siblings. But if this dispute did suspend payments to John Gately, it would explain why his older sister Joan was supporting him -- a decision which prosecutors say contributed to her brother's anger, and eventually, her husband’s murder.

None of the lawyers involved in the probate dispute would comment. Gately's attorney says his client will plead not guilty.