MEDINA — Jury selection is expected to begin this morning for the long-delayed trial of a parole violator accused of killing a 73-year-old Chatham Township historian two and a half years ago.
Steven Cepec faces a possible death sentence if convicted of the aggravated murder of Frank Munz, of 5394 Richman Road.
A key issue in the trial is whether the jury will be told that Cepec confessed to the crime multiple times to officers while in custody at the county jail.
Cepec’s defense attorney, Kerry O’Brien, and former attorney, Edmond Bowers, said police violated Cepec’s constitutional rights by coercing him into confessing.
They also argue that prosecutors failed to prove Cepec “knowingly and intelligently” waived his Miranda rights to an attorney and to remain silent.
In arguing that the confession be admitted, county Prosecutor Dean Holman said deputies read Cepec his rights twice before arriving at the Sheriff’s Office and a third time before he was interrogated.
“Once advised of his right to remain silent and his right to consult with an attorney, Cepec voluntarily made statements to investigators over the course of several hours,” Holman said in a 14-page motion filed Jan. 8.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler said he expected to rule today on the admissibility of the confession.
Cepec was arrested June 3, 2010, after Munz’s nephew, Paul Munz, called 911 from a locked bedroom in his uncle’s home.
The nephew told the dispatcher he could hear Munz and a man he identified as Cepec struggling in the next room — possibly over money Cepec may have borrowed from Munz two days earlier.
A sheriff’s deputy on his way home from work arrived within minutes of the 911 call and reported seeing a man fleeing the home. After a brief chase through the woods behind the home, officers arrested a blood-soaked Cepec.
Munz’s body was found inside. County Coroner Neil Grabenstetter said Munz died from a blow to the back of his head and from strangulation.
Cepec’s case has been delayed several times, for tests to decide whether he is competent to stand trial and because of changes in defense attorneys.
After pleading not guilty in December 2010, Cepec’s attorneys filed a motion to change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity a few days later.
While Cepec was at the Medina County Jail, he ingested bolts from his jail cell and part of a soap dispenser.
Kimbler has ruled him competent to stand trial.
Cepec was awaiting trial at a state prison, the Warren Correctional Institute in Lebanon, where he was sent as a parole violator.
He was first incarcerated in 1988 on charges of breaking and entering, theft and receiving stolen property in Medina County, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records. Since then, he’s been in and out of prison on charges of breaking and entering, assault and burglary.
Cepec also has been arrested three other times for parole violations.
He was taken in on a parole violation in early May and released May 28, less than a week before Munz’s death.
Contact Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.