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updated: 6/19/2014 5:05 PM

Man pleads guilty but mentally ill in bizarre Gurnee stabbing attack

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  • Zervant S. Thomas

      Zervant S. Thomas

 
 

A Waukegan man pleaded guilty but mentally ill to charges he stabbed and killed one man and wounded another during a bizarre car trip through Gurnee in 2011.

Zervont Thomas, 21, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Stefan A. Metel, 33, of Waukegan, and wounding Arturo Antomez, then 17, of Round Lake Beach, in the attack inside the moving car.

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz said Thomas was deemed mentally ill during a court-ordered mental health evaluation before the plea deal Thursday. Under the guilty but mentally ill ruling, Thomas is eligible for mental health screenings, psychiatric care, and possible hospitalization within the Illinois Department of Human Services while serving his prison sentence.

Thomas' family members and representatives of the victim wept in the courtroom when Thomas pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Judge Mark Levitt.

Thomas has been held in the Lake County jail on $5 million bail since the August 2011, attack on Metel and Antomez.

Authorities said Metel was giving Thomas a ride to Round Lake when Thomas suddenly feared he was going to be attacked. He pulled out a knife and stabbed at the two men in the front seat while he was sitting alone in the back seat, authorities said.

Metel was stabbed five times in the face and neck, authorities said, and Antomez was stabbed near the left eye and the hand.

Antomez jumped from the car while it was still moving to escape Thomas, authorities said, but Metel was able to stop the car and run into a service bay of a car dealership on Grand Avenue.

Metel collapsed inside the auto bay, authorities said, and mechanics held Thomas in the building until police arrived.

Metel died later that day at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

Charges of attempted murder against Thomas were dropped as part of the negotiated plea deal, Fisz said.

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