CROWN POINT | The murder trial of a 61-year-old Calumet Township man accused of killing his 94-year-old mother will begin Aug. 5 in Lake Criminal Court.
Free on bond, George Knezevic appeared Friday before Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. and again rejected a deal to plead guilty to a felony with a maximum sentence of eight years.
At a previous pretrial hearing in April, Knezevic balked at accepting a plea deal offered by the Lake County prosecutor’s office.
Knezevic is charged with murder, neglect of a dependent and several counts of battery, Lake Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz said.
Jury selection and the presentation of evidence will occur on the first day of the trial, she said. The prosecution expects the trial to last four days, Jatkiewicz told Stefaniak.
If convicted of murder, Knezevic faces between 45 and 65 years in prison.
Defense attorney Scott King has argued there is considerable question about what caused the woman’s death.
Court records state in October 2010 police were called to the home Knezevic shared with his mother, Ljubica Knezevic, in the 4700 block of Buchanan Street. They found the 94-year-old woman in pain, bruised, unable to speak and wearing wet clothes in the trash-filled home permeated by a foul odor.
Walking paths were cut through the trash throughout the entire house, police said.
Witnesses told police George Knezevic, then 59, had choked the woman outside the home before spraying her with a garden hose and pulling her into the house by her hair.
Knezevic is also alleged to have placed a pistol against the head of a witness before striking the windshield of the man’s car and firing a shot into the air. Police discovered three handguns in plain view inside the Knezevic residence, court records state.
Ljubica Knezevic died three days later at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus in Merrillville. Hospital personnel said the woman had injuries to her head, ribs, arms and legs.