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Cops and Courts

Witnesses say man charged in wife's death didn't show previous violent side

  • Svec-trial-2-jpg-1

    Ronald Svec appears for his murder trial at Lorain County Justice Center June 11.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

  • Svec-trial-1-jpg

    Ronald Svec appears for his murder trial at Lorain County Justice Center June 11.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

  • Svec-trial-3-jpg-1

    Ronald Svec appears for his murder trial at Lorain County Justice Center June 11.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

  • Svec-trial-4-jpg-1

    Ronald Svec appears for his murder trial at Lorain County Justice Center June 11.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — Ronald Svec is a generous, loving and caring man who never showed a violent side until the shooting death of his wife, according to family and friends who testified on his behalf at his murder trial.

Testimony in the trial of Svec, 77, of North Ridgeville, concluded after a fifth day Monday.

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

Ronald Svec never denied shooting his wife, and in fact called 911 and told the dispatcher that he had shot her. He has told police that the shooting was unintentional and was an act of self-defense, as he believed Gloria Svec was going to stab him with a knife.

After the state rested Monday, following more than four days of witness testimony, Ronald Svec’s defense attorney Jenifer Berki Merrill called family and friends of the defendant to testify on his behalf.

“He’s a lovable kind of guy, if he knows you,” Ronald Svec’s grandson Andrew Hennings said. “He’s very caring. He likes to joke around a lot. Sometimes he jokes around and says things — they’re funny or they’re not, depending on how you look at them.”

Former co-workers of Ronald Svec at Avery Dennison also testified that the defendant was a “great guy,” never appeared to be violent and rarely got angry.

Michelle Churnega, who was once married to Ronald Svec’s son, testified that the defendant allowed her to live in a house he owned in Cleveland for very little rent after she and his son separated. Churnega said Ronald Svec “was awesome to” her and was like a father to her.

Jane Svec, who was married to Ronald Svec for five years until they divorced in 1994 and had a son with him, said her ex-husband may be “rough around the edges” but he never hit her and was always very respectful.

The witnesses for the defense also spoke of the Svecs’ relationship and said Gloria Svec didn’t want Ronald Svec’s friends or family to visit the home.

“Technically, she was my grandmother,” Hennings said. “She didn’t treat me like that in any way. Anytime I was over there, I’d try to engage her and say ‘hello’ or ‘how are you doing?’ She’d just dismiss me and walk off and do something else. I never really had a lot of contact with her.”

Jane Svec said her son stopped wanting to visit Ronald Svec at his home once he and Gloria Svec began living together.

Witnesses also testified that when Ronald Svec was away from his home, Gloria Svec would call him and could be heard “screaming at the phone” and cursing.

On the day of the shooting, Ronald Svec told police that Gloria Svec kept following him around the house after the two had an argument, poking a knife at him, which made him fear for his life. He said he pulled the gun out from under his pillow to scare his wife and then unintentionally shot her.

Before the prosecution rested, a North Ridgeville police officer stated that when they arrived on the scene, Ronald Svec’s bed was made with the blankets pulled up over the pillows, which made them question whether the defendant had pulled the gun from under the pillow. Instead, police believe he went into his closet and pulled the gun from a holster there, as investigators found an empty holster for the gun in Ronald Svec’s bedroom closet.

Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for 9 a.m. today before Judge James Miraldi.

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


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