Article updated: 3/7/2013 2:29 PM

Gurnee man facing murder charge retains court-appointed attorney again

Zervont S. Thomas

Zervont S. Thomas

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A Waukegan man facing 60 years in prison for a Gurnee murder has decided to again be represented by a court-appointed public defender.

Attorney John E. Murphy of Waukegan announced in Lake County court Thursday that he is defending Zervont Thomas, now 20, who faces charges in the August 2011 stabbing death of Stefan A. Metel, 33.

Thus ends a strange loop by Thomas, who told Lake County Judge John Phillips in December that he didn't want help from Murphy, wanted to represent himself at his trial, then asked for time to hire a private attorney, before agreeing again to work with Murphy.

Thomas remains in Lake County jail in lieu of $5 million bond for attacking Metel and another man while the three were driving along Grand Avenue, authorities said.

He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and armed violence shortly after Metel, of Round Lake Beach, was pronounced dead in front of the Anthony Buick GMC dealership.

Phillips ordered Thomas to submit to a psychological exam at the jail, and asked for those findings to be brought to court March 21. The case is expected to go to trial April 8.

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