CROWN POINT | A Calumet Township man accused of murder in the death his 94-year-old mother for the second time on Wednesday publicly rejected pleading guilty to a felony with a maximum sentence of eight years.
Free on bond, George Knezevic, 61, maintained his innocence in rejecting the plea deal and was given until Monday to decide to accept the plea deal or go to trial April 8.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. attempted to make clear to Knezevic the ramifications of opting for trial, saying he sees many convicted defendants dying in jail.
If convicted of murder, Knezevic faces between 45 and 65 years in prison.
Stefaniak told Knezevic he feared Knezevic was "failing to see the forest for the trees," arguing Knezevic was depending on facts not relevant to his case.
Defense attorney Scott King has argued there is considerable question as to what caused the woman's death.
Court records state when police were called to the home Knezevic shared with his mother on October 2010 in the 4700 block of Buchanan Street, they found the woman in pain, bruised, unable to speak and wearing wet clothes in the trash-filled house.
Witnesses told police Knezevic had choked the woman outside the house before spraying her with a garden hose and pulling her into the house by her hair.
Knezevic also is 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 in the air.