ELYRIA — Ronald Svec shot his wife in the head, in front of a 4-year-old child, in order to “shut her up,” according to prosecutors.
Opening statements and the first day of testimony in the murder trial of Svec, 77, of North Ridgeville, took place Tuesday before Judge James Miraldi. Svec faces two counts of murder and two counts of felonious assault in connection to the shooting death of his wife — Gloria Svec, 69 — in 2015 at their home at 5915 Jaycox Road, North Ridgeville.
Assistant County Prosecutor Donna Freeman said in her opening statement the Svecs had a horrible relationship and fought all the time. The Svecs also adopted Gloria Svec’s 4-year-old special-needs grandson, which added to the stress in the home.
Freeman said on Nov. 6, 2015, after an argument between the two, Ronald Svec pulled out a gun he had in his bedroom and shot his wife in the throat. Gloria Svec then ran down the hallway and into the kitchen where she grabbed a steak knife to try to defend herself. Freeman said Ronald Svec followed his wife into the kitchen and shot her in the head as the child sat at the kitchen table eating pancakes.
Defense attorney Jenifer Berki said her client had to make a split-second decision, and the case is simply one of self-defense.
Berki said there’s no disputing that her client shot Gloria Svec, but she said he only did it after Gloria Svec followed him around the house with a knife after an argument. Berki said Ronald Svec couldn’t live up to his wife’s standards, and Gloria Svec was a “control freak.”
Berki also said Ronald Svec only fired the weapon because he felt his wife was coming at him with a knife. She said the shot in the hallway couldn’t have struck Gloria Svec in the throat since it then traveled through a bedroom door and then through a wall and ended up outside the home. Berki said the first shot only grazed Gloria Svec’s shoulder, because she later came at her husband with the knife again in the kitchen moments later.
Berki also said there may have been three shots fired in the home, though police only recovered two casings and two bullets from the scene.
Ronald Svec was afraid of his wife, who had been married four times and had threatened to cut his throat in his sleep, Berki said. The defense also asked the jury to keep an open mind throughout the trial.
Freeman told the jury that Ronald Svec didn’t tell police that he’d been afraid of his wife, but instead told them he was trying to scare her with the gun and the gun had gone off “unintentionally.”
The 4-year-old child also told police that he saw Ronald Svec shoot Gloria Svec with a “fire gun” in the kitchen, Freeman said. Berki said the child told police that Gloria Svec tried to stab her husband in the kitchen.
Paramedics said that Gloria Svec was combative in the ambulance on her way to the hospital, according to Berki. She later died at St. John Medical Center in Westlake.
Freeman closed her opening statement by saying that the shooting “was not self defense but was to shut Gloria Svec up.”
Once testimony began, two police officers walked the jury through photos and maps of the crime scene to begin testimony.
Berki objected to the use of a 3-D model of the crime scene and house created with software by North Ridgeville police. The jury was taken out of the courtroom twice while the two sides argued over whether images from the 3-D model could be used as evidence.
Miraldi eventually allowed the images to be used, but some had to be altered before they could be viewed by the jury.
“There are some diagrams from this program that have placed the victim and the defendant in position before the victim was found in the kitchen,” Miraldi said. “Those characters that were used to show their position are not evidence. That is just demonstrative of where the state claims people were located at a certain point. Whether or not that is true will depend on hearing the actual evidence and what you conclude after hearing all the evidence.”
Testimony in the trial is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. today.
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