'Stop ignoring me': Murder trial of accused spurned lover begins
"'Talk to me, Sandy, stop ignoring me,'" reads the final text message a Round Lake Beach man accused of gunning down a romantic rival sent the woman that was the object of both men's affections, according to prosecutors.
A Lake County jury heard opening statements Tuesday in the trial to decide if Kenneth Seplak, now 39, murdered David Gorski two days before Christmas 2016. Gorski, 30, was shot to death while driving on Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville after seeing a movie with the Wauconda woman whom Seplak described as the girl of his dreams, authorities say.
Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Jim Newman said Seplak met Sandy Moreno through his job delivering beer to the Thornton's gas station where she worked as a clerk. Newman said the two went on a few dates in the fall of 2016, and Moreno asked Seplak for help with bills and expenses, requests that started small but ended up totaling about $13,000.
Frustrated that their relationship had not become physical, Seplak once texted Moreno that he felt they should at the "very least be friends with benefits" for all the money he'd given her, Newman said.
On Sept. 30, Moreno blocked Seplak's number, unblocking it only to make arrangements to repay the $13,000 she owed him, according to Newman.
Newman told jurors that data collected from Seplak's cellphone the night of Dec. 23, 2016, shows he followed Moreno to the AMC Hawthorn 12 movie theater in Vernon Hills, where she met Gorski for a date. The data indicates Seplak then went to his parent's house, where prosecutors believe he got a gun, before returning to the theaters, Newman said.
Seplak later followed Gorski and shot him through the passenger's-side window of his Volkswagen sedan as he drove down Milwaukee Avenue about 11 p.m., Newman said.
Seplak attorney Daniel Hodgkinson told jurors there are no eyewitnesses or video surveillance of the shooting.
"They have no video to tell you what happened and none of those things speak to the charges of first-degree murder," Hodgkinson said.
The defense lawyer said Moreno manipulated Seplak "all the way" and cut off their relationship on Dec. 17, after he told her he had lost his job.
"She knew the bank of Ken Seplak was closed," he said.
Hodgkinson said Seplak was at movie theater the night of the killing but only because Moreno told him they were dating exclusively and he suspected she was seeing another man.
"He wanted to see for himself," Hodgkinson said.