December 21, 2014

Medina
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31°F
 

Cepec pleads not guilty

Steven Cepec, 42, pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated burglary charges Thursday. He’s accused of slaying 73-year-old Chatham Township resident Frank Munz in June. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MARIA KACIK KULA)

Steven Cepec, 42, pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated burglary charges Thursday. He’s accused of slaying 73-year-old Chatham Township resident Frank Munz in June. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MARIA KACIK KULA)

MEDINA — Homicide suspect Steven Cepec, who pleaded not guilty to murder charges Thursday, is expected to make a lot of trips between central Ohio and Medina County in the coming months.

Two Medina County Sheriff’s deputies drove to the Correctional Reception Center in Orient on Thursday to pick up Cepec. They drove him to his arraignment at common pleas court and then made the two-hour trip again later in the day to return Cepec.

That round trip is expected to happen at least once a week as Cepec’s case moves forward.

Cepec is charged with four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and two counts of aggravated robbery for the June 3 slaying of Chatham Township resident Frank Munz. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Sheriff Neil Hassinger said it’s easier to have Cepec in the prison, where he’s serving a three-year sentence for a parole violation. He said Cepec caused problems in while in the county jail shortly after the alleged murder in June.

“There were times when he was here that we had a lot of difficulties with him,” Hassinger said.

Cepec ingested bolts that were secured in his jail cell and also part of the pump from a soap dispenser, Hassinger said.

He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, where he was treated at the cost of the county. Hassinger said he didn’t have the cost of the treatment immediately available.

Hassinger said if the back-and-forth does not work out, he will consider moving Cepec to the jail. “And I’m sure closer to the trial other arrangements might be made,” he said.

Deputies took extra precautions with Cepec in the courtroom Thursday. His hands were restrained and wrapped in netting with a “secure restraining device” that Hassinger said his office has just purchased. He also was wearing a device around his ankle or arm that deputies could use to shock him if he posed any kind of threat.

Cepec’s lawyers, Kerry O’Brien of Akron and Ed Bowers of Medina, told Judge James Kimbler on Thursday that they would like to meet with their client at least on a weekly basis.

“The sheriff will make Mr. Cepec available and transport him when needed from Orient to the county jail,” Kimbler said. He set a trial for March 14.

However, Kimbler acknowledged that the trial likely will be postponed.

“We’ll be filing a large number of motions and those motions may necessitate backing up the court date,” O’Brien told Kimbler.

Cepec allegedly attacked Frank Munz on June 3 in his home, while Munz’s nephew, Paul Munz, hid in a closet and called 911.

Paul Munz said Cepec may have borrowed money from his uncle two days prior to the incident.

Sheriff’s deputies found Cepec in the woods behind the Munz property on Richman Road after he allegedly fled the scene.

He was held in the county jail and then taken into custody by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for a parole violation.

Cepec served almost five years in prison starting in 2004 on several counts of burglary and aggravated burglary from Medina and Lorain counties.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has not released the reasons for Cepec’s parole violations because they are not public record.

Cepec turns 42 today.

Besides being co-chairman of the Chatham Historical Society, Munz served on the township’s Zoning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals and the Medina County Planning Commission. He was 73 at the time of his death.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.