Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Elyria 75°
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Cops and Courts

Did Ronald Svec shoot his wife in self-defense or anger? The case now goes to the jury

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    Ronald Svec talks to family members as the await the beginning of closing arguments Tuesday in court.

    BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE

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ELYRIA — The jury is expected to begin deliberating this morning to decide whether Ronald Svec murdered his wife or if he shot her in self-defense.

Both sides delivered closing arguments in the trial Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Svec, 77, of North Ridgeville, which has spanned nearly a week and a half. Svec is accused of killing his wife of 20 years, Gloria Svec, 69, in their North Ridgeville home in 2015.

Ronald Svec’s defense attorney Jenifer Berki Merrill told the jury that her client only shot his wife because he feared for his life and was afraid she was going to stab him with a knife. Berki Merrill said Ronald Svec had to make a split-second decision in an incident that lasted 4 to 10 seconds.

Ronald Svec told police that he and his wife had an argument while Gloria Svec was cutting up pancakes for a 4-year-old boy, whom the couple had custody of, with a knife she began poking at her husband with. Ronald Svec told police he went into the living room of the home to get away from his wife, but Gloria Svec soon followed him in there and continued poke at him with the knife.

Ronald Svec said he then went into his bedroom and was lying across the bed when his wife burst in screaming and yelling and continued poking at him with the knife. He said he then pulled out a gun from under his pillow to try to scare Gloria Svec and unintentionally shot her.

Berki Merrill told the jury that the incident — from where Ronald Svec pulled out the gun and unintentionally shot his wife until the moment she was lying on the kitchen floor with a second gunshot wound in her head — lasted 10 seconds.

“It’s so unfortunate. … If she had not come at him with a knife, she would still be alive today,” Berki Merrill said. “It’s unfortunate when somebody drinks and drives … but you can’t blame anyone but yourself for getting in the car after drinking. It’s a sad situation, but your actions have consequences.”

The prosecution, though, submitted that Gloria Svec hadn’t been chasing her husband around with a knife and question whether there even had been an argument between the two.

“The state submits he gunned her down because he was tired of her,” Assistant County Prosecutor Donna Freeman said. “He was tired of her mouth; he was tired of fighting with her, so he gunned her down.

“He stood over her, aimed at her head and shot her in the head, right in front of a 4-year-old that was eating his pancakes.”

Freeman also said that the evidence also shows that Gloria Svec only grabbed a steak knife to defend herself after Ronald Svec had shot her once.

“What happened is she was shot in the hall. She ran down the hall from him,” Freeman said. “She went into the kitchen. She started getting scared for the child, as well as herself, then she goes around the corner of the counter and grabs a steak knife.”

Berki Merrill told the jury that speculation wasn’t evidence and questioned why the prosecution didn’t have any character witnesses speak on Gloria Svec’s behalf, as she did with the defendant.

“Did we hear from any of Gloria’s relatives?” Berki Merrill asked. “Did we hear from anyone on Gloria’s side? Ask yourselves that … saying ‘she’s not capable of this.’ Did we hear about what a peaceful, nice person she was? Why not?”

Berki Merrill also attacked the prosecution’s claim that Ronald Svec didn’t show grief when learning his wife had died, saying that her client was remorseful and “grew up in an age where men don’t cry.” She also said her client called 911 immediately because he didn’t want his wife to die.

“When you shoot someone in the head, you want them dead,” Freeman countered.

Closing arguments had been scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, but were delayed until about 2 p.m. because the two sides couldn’t agree on jury instructions. The late start meant that closing arguments didn’t end until about 4:30 p.m.

Judge James Miraldi decided, along with both sides, to delay reading the jury instructions to the jury until this following morning. Once the jury has received its instructions, it’s expected to begin deliberation immediately.

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


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