Jury finds Round Lake Beach man guilty of killing romantic rival

A Round Lake Beach man was found guilty of first-degree murder for gunning down a romantic rival.

Kenneth Seplak, 39, now faces life in prison when he is sentenced July 30. Seplak, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody immediately after the verdict.

Defense attorney Dan Hodgkinson said a motion for a new trial will be filed.

"We recognize that the jury made the decision they thought they had to make but feel there were errors made a long the way," he said.

The jury took less than three hours to decide Seplak intentionally shot David Gorski on Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville on Dec. 23, 2016, after Gorski went on a date with Sandy Moreno, a Wauconda woman Seplak was accused of stalking.

The bullet from Seplak's .38-caliber revolver went through Gorski's arm, then entered his chest and lodged in his heart. Gorski, 30, of Libertyville, was pronounced dead a short time later at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

Authorities said Seplak followed Moreno to a Vernon Hills movie theater and saw her go inside. He went home, where Assistant Lake County State's Attorneys Jim Newman and John Brown said he picked up the revolver and drove back to the theater.

After Moreno came outside with Gorski, authorities said, Seplak followed Gorski, then shot him at a traffic light. Gunshot residue was found on Seplak's cuff and in the window well of his Chevrolet Tahoe when police investigated the shooting.

Authorities said Moreno had rebuffed Seplak's previous efforts to have their friendship turn sexual, and that Seplak had given her more than $13,000 in money and gifts over a year.

During closing arguments, Brown and Newman repeatedly pointed to evidence that showed Seplak killed Gorski out of "rage" that the "woman of his dreams" didn't feel the same way he did. They focused on text messages Seplak repeatedly sent to Moreno in the weeks before the shooting. Many of those text messages were never returned.

"He intentionally, with precision, shot into that vehicle and into David Gorski," Brown told the jury. "A broken heart by the woman of your dreams does not give you the right to kill her, and it certainly doesn't give you the right to murder the man she was with."

Seplak testified Monday that the shooting was an accident and happened as he was being chased by Gorski after a confrontation.

Seplak told the jury he was driving to Moreno's house when he saw her drive past on Route 176 near Wauconda. He followed her to the theater, where he watched her walk inside, he said.

Seplak said he drove home to Round Lake Beach but returned later and waited outside to see who was with Moreno that night.

He said he confronted Gorski in the parking lot after Moreno left. Gorski shoved him to the ground, Seplak said, and he ran to his car and drove away. But Gorski chased him in his own vehicle, Seplak said.

When the chase turned onto Milwaukee Avenue, Seplak said, he pulled out the revolver and showed it to Gorski "to scare him." But Seplak testified the gun discharged when Gorski tried to force Seplak off the road.

The jury was also given the option of finding Seplak guilty of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. The prison sentence on either of those charges would have been significantly less.

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