Calumet Township man sentenced in mother's death

2013-11-08T18:30:00Z 2013-11-09T23:52:11Z Calumet Township man sentenced in mother's deathSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
November 08, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | A Calumet Township man acquitted last month of murder in the death of his 94-year-old mother was sentenced Friday on two convictions of neglect of a dependent and a single count of pointing a firearm.

George Knezevic, 62, was sentenced to a total of nine and one-half years on the three counts.

Six and one-half years were ordered to be served in prison with the remaining three years on probation. Knezevic also was credited with 488 days for time served in the Lake County Jail.

Ljubica Knezevic died in October 2010. Trial testimony indicated a beating by her only son contributed to her death.

When police responded to the home they shared 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 testified 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 then pointed a pistol against the head of a neighbor who saw the assault.

At trial, Knezevic faced nine counts in the incident, including charges of murder, neglect and battery.

During pre-trial hearings, Knezevic resisted a plea deal in which he would have served an eight-year sentence in the incident.

Knezevic's insistence on risking a murder sentence compounded by a focus on financial and estate matters instead of his defense led the court to question Knezevic's competency to stand trial.

Evaluations by experts ultimately found him competent.

On Friday, Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. heard sentencing arguments that ranged from asking for prison time to alternative sentencing.

Deputy prosecuting attorney Michelle Jatkiewicz noted Knezevic's lack of criminal history but still argued for a prison sentence.

"He lived a law-abiding life but that didn't include taking care of his mother," she said. "He did kill his mother though he may not have meant to kill his mother."

Defense attorney Scott King said the fact that his client lived in the same horrific circumstances as his mother should offer some insight into Knezevic's own mental and physical condition.

King argued Knezevic's life history showed him ill-equipped to take on the responsibility of his aging and ill mother.

"He was operating at the top of what he could do," King said.

"There a lot to this case," Stefaniak said in calling a brief recess to consider his decision.

Stefaniak ultimately ruled the rough handling of the woman at her advanced age weighed heavily as an aggravating factor as far as the neglect convictions.

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