Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Elyria 50°


Suspect brought from Florida to face local murder charge


ELYRIA — A former Lorain man who had been serving time in a federal prison in Florida has been brought back to Lorain County to face murder and other charges in connection with the November 2011 shooting death of Stephen Mihalak during a robbery in New Russia Township.

Luis Dejesus, 39, also faces aggravated robbery, felonious assault and weapons charges in addition to an unrelated 2011 felonious assault case out of Lorain and for failing to appear in a child support case.

Lorain County sheriff’s Lt. Donald Barker said Dejesus has long been a suspect in the Mihalak killing based on the investigation, and his DNA was recovered from the crime scene. He was picked up in Florida and returned to Ohio on Thursday, he said.

Deputies have previously said that the robbery that led to the shooting began Nov. 11 when Donald Mihalak opened the door at his home at 45609 Russia Road and was confronted by two men, one armed with a handgun.

Stephen Mihalak, who was visiting his brother, grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle he had planned to use for target shooting and came to his brother’s aid. The robber with the gun reportedly shot first, wounding Donald Mihalak in the hand and Stephen Mihalak returned fire, deputies have said.

Stephen Mihalak, 46, was shot in the chest during the ensuing gunfight and died of the wound as he was being driven by ambulance to Lorain County Regional Airport where a helicopter had been waiting to fly him to a trauma center.

A police report said about $900 was stolen during the robbery, although Barker declined to comment on why Donald Mihalak was targeted for the robbery.

The fiancee of a third brother, Bruce Mihalak, and two children were also in the house at the time of the shooting, the family has previously said. The family has described the slain Stephen Mihalak as a good father and hero.

They also have said they didn’t know those responsible for the robbery and shooting. Barker said the case remains under investigation.

Dejesus, who is scheduled to be arraigned next week, served prison time after pleading guilty to felonious assault, robbery and kidnapping in a criminal case, according to court records.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

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