CROWN POINT | A Lake Criminal Court judge sentenced a Robertsdale man to 26 years in prison Tuesday in the death of a local funeral home operator.
Shawn Zvonar, 31, last month admitted to the Oct. 13, 2011, slaying of David Ruzich, 58.
Initially charged with murdering Ruzich, Zvonar pleaded guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter for which he agreed to the 26-year sentence.
Although voicing some reluctance to accept the agreed sentence given the brutality of the stabbing and seriousness of the charge, Judge Salvador Vasquez approved the plea deal during Tuesday's sentencing hearing.
Judges rarely reject sentences reached during plea negotiations, and Zvonar has nearly no criminal history but for a drunken driving charge in 2001 that was later reduced to reckless driving.
Zvonar admitted the stabbing occurred during an altercation between the men in Ruzich's home, 2031 Indianapolis Blvd., Whiting, also the location of the former Ruzich Funeral Home.
Ruzich's body was found by the family handyman — face up on a bed in a pool of blood, with a screwdriver embedded in his right eye socket.
An autopsy revealed Ruzich died of a slashed throat and suffered multiple stab wounds to the upper back, neck, shoulder and face.