Trial begins in case of son accused of killing his mother, 94
BY RUTH ANN KRAUSE Post-Tribune correspondent October 7, 2013 9:40PM
Updated: November 9, 2013 6:22AM
Lake Superior Court jurors will have to decide whether a 94-year-old woman living in deplorable conditions was killed by her only son or whether her death was the result of her long-standing heart conditions.
During opening statements at the trial of George Knezevic, deputy prosecutor Michelle Jatkiewicz and defense attorney Scott King portrayed the evidence in starkly different terms.
At issue is the Oct. 16, 2010, death of Ljubica “Violet” Knezevic. Her son is charged with murder, neglect and battery.
“Though it may seem counterintuitive, her life was cut short because of the beating she took at the hands of the one person she thought she could trust — her son, George Knezevic,” Jatkiewicz said.
Living conditions in the brick home in the 4700 block of Buchanan Street in Calumet Township were deplorable, with buckets full of urine and feces, bedding that hadn’t been changed, clutter that prevented medics from bringing in a gurney and a roof that was caving in.
In his opening statement, King told jurors that Ljubica Knezevic died from heart failure after being treated for years for a heart murmur and congestive heart failure. King promised to present testimony from her long-time physician.
Jatkiewicz said three men “with some issues” witnessed the alleged beating Knezevic meted out on his mother on Oct. 13, 2010.
King immediately pounced on the notion of the key prosecution witnesses “with some issues,” telling jurors that evidence will show they were charged with burglarizing the family home after Ljubica Knezevic died and George Knezevic was incarcerated at the Lake County Jail on charges of murder, neglect of a dependent and battery. “They were so bold that they backed up a vehicle to the house and loaded safes with guns,” King said. The burglary came to light when some of the guns were illegally sold on the streets.
Knezevic, 62, who has pleaded not guilty, is free on bond.
In his opening statement, King said his client doted on his widowed mother and did the best he could in caring for her while dealing with his own health issues.