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Cops and Courts

North Ridgeville murder trial: 'Papa shot mama'

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    Ronald Svec speaks with his attorney, Jenifer Berki Merrill, during his murder trial Thursday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court in Elyria.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — Just before shooting his wife in the head in the kitchen of their North Ridgeville home, Ronald Svec told her to “be quiet,” according to the 4-year-old child who witnessed the killing.

During the third day of testimony in the murder trial of Svec, 77, of North Ridgeville, the prosecution played a recorded interview police conducted with the boy the night of the incident as well as a video interview conducted a week later at the Nord Center’s Child Advocacy Center.

Svec is accused of murdering his wife, Gloria Svec, 69, at their home at 5915 Jaycox Road on Nov. 6, 2015.

The boy lived with the Svecs, who had custody of him, and he is the son of Gloria Svec’s adopted daughter. Police have said the child was sitting at the kitchen table eating pancakes from McDonald’s when Ronald Svec followed his wife into the kitchen and shot her in the head.

In the interview with police the night of the incident, the boy told police he was sitting in the kitchen with the family dog Howie and “was just trying to eat my pancakes.”

He said “Papa shot mama with the fire gun” and then “the red came out of her,” according to the recording, and he also told police that Gloria Svec “needed a Band-Aid.”

The child also told police that “Mama used the knife to try to cut Papa right off.” When police arrived at the scene, after Ronald Svec called 911, they found Gloria Svec lying in a pool of blood clutching a black-handled steak knife, according to testimony.

Gloria Svec was taken to St. John Medical Center in Westlake, where she later died.

In the interview conducted a week later on Nov. 13, 2015, a counselor with the Nord Center and a detective from the North Ridgeville Police Department spoke with the boy — who at that point was living with his biological mother — and tried to get more information about what happened the night of the incident.

The boy said Gloria Svec threw a knife at her husband because “she want Papa alone from me.” The child said he told Ronald Svec “No!” when he went to shoot her, and then after the shot was fired, Ronald Svec told the child “he broke her life,” according to the video.

The child told the interviewers “he holded my hand while I was screaming.” Police have testified that they found Ronald Svec and the child outside the home when they arrived at the scene.

Also Thursday, North Ridgeville Police Dective Bureau Commander Lt. Greg Petek took the stand and during his testimony, a recording of the 911 call placed by Ronald Svec was played for the jury as well as the first hour of a three-hour recorded interview of Ronald Svec by police the night of the shooting.

In the 911 call, Ronald Svec told the dispatcher “I just shot my wife,” and asked for them to send an ambulance quickly. A child could be heard screaming in the background.

In his interview with police, Ronald Svec said his wife was ranting and raving and kept poking at him with a knife. He told police that he went into his bedroom and pulled a gun out from under his pillow.

He then turned the gun on Gloria Svec, told her to “back off” and the gun unintentionally went off twice with one pull of the trigger, according to the recorded interview. Police have said they found two bullets and casings in the home, in two different rooms and approximately 25 yards away from each other.

Ronald Svec told police he feared for his life.

Erica Armstrong, a deputy medical examiner from the Cuyahoga county Medical Examiner’s Office who oversaw the autopsy of Gloria Svec, testified that she found three gunshot wounds on the victim, though police have said there were only two shots fired.

Ronald Svec’s defense attorney Jenifer Berki Merrill said in her opening statement that there could have been three shots fired.

The first gunshot wound entered the right side of the victim’s head, passed through her brain, the back of her throat and her left jawbone before exiting through her left cheek, according to Armstrong. The second gunshot wound, which police believe was the first shot fired by the defendant, hit Gloria Svec in the upper chest, passed through her lung and exited her body through the shoulder blade, Armstrong said.

Armstrong characterized the third gunshot wound as a “graze wound” and said it could have occurred when the gunshot to the head left the body. She testified that she couldn’t say what the direction of the bullet was for the graze wound.

Armstrong also said the significant loss of blood could have caused an involuntary reaction of combativeness, which would explain why paramedics said Gloria Svec was combative in the ambulance. Upon cross examination by Berki Merrill, Armstrong said she wasn’t at the scene but said such combativeness is not uncommon.

Testimony in the trial will resume at 9 a.m. today.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 440-329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.


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