CROWN POINT | A 62-year-old Calumet Township man accused of killing his mother is again free on bond after a judge ruled he isn't a threat to society.
George Knezevic, who spent 23 days in the Lake County Jail after making what was earlier considered to be a threat about a possible terrorist act, thanked Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. for setting him free on Friday.
Knezevic is scheduled to stand trial the week of Oct. 7 on charges of neglect, battery and murder in the death of his 94-year-old mother, Ljubica Knezevic. He is accused of attacking her Oct. 13, 2010, at their home in the 4700 block of Buchanan Street, just west of Gary city limits. She died three days later.
However, Stefaniak has yet to rule whether Knezevic is mentally competent to stand trial.
Knezevic has rejected a plea agreement offered by prosecutors that could have reduced his potential prison time from 65 years — if convicted of murder — to eight years if he pleaded guilty to a lesser felony count.
Stefaniak hired two physicians to examine Knezevic at the request of his defense attorney, Scott King.
The judge said Dr. Douglas Caruana reports Knezevic appears competent, understands the charges against him and the possible outcomes he faces. Caruana said Knezevic hopes to be exonerated.
The second doctor's report hasn't yet been completed.
Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz argued in court Knezevic has harassed and threatened Veterans Administration officials after they refused Knezevic's demand to change or remove something from his medical records that he thinks would be important evidence in his upcoming trial.
The judge said he ordered Knezevic jailed earlier this month after the defendant suggested he knew "freedom fighters" and if didn't get his way on changes to his medical records, "bad things could happen in Chicago" and that Homeland Security should investigate.
King said authorities know Knezevic, once a member of the military, isn't a threat to national security.
"Some people are frustrated with dealing with (Knezevic). He has strong opinions, but that is not a reason to lock him up," King said.
The judge said he now agrees there isn't clear and convincing evidence of a threat to public safety, and he cannot jail Knezevic on speculation.