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Atwater man found guilty at retrial

Convicted of attempted murder shot wife 6 timed in argument

By DAVE O'BRIEN Staff Writer Published: April 28, 2017 4:00 AM
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A former Atwater man convicted of the attempted murder of his wife after shooting her six times during an incident at their home in May 2010 has been convicted of the crime a second time following a bench trial in Portage County Common Pleas Court.

Following a bench trial that began March 7 in her court, Judge Laurie Pittman found Lawrence J. Bozek, 61, guilty of attempted murder, a first-degree felony with a firearms specification, and two counts of felonious assault, both second-degree felonies, one with a firearms specification. She found him not guilty of one count of kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and its accompanying firearm specification.

Bozek faces a maximum of more than 30 years in prison at sentencing, a date for which has yet to be set. He originally pleaded guilty in August 2010 to two counts of attempted murder, both first-degree felonies and each with a three-year firearms specification attached, and Pittman sentenced him to a total of 20 years in prison.

The court rejected an appeal for re-sentencing, but because one of the crimes to which he pleaded guilty is a logical impossibility, Bozek appealed the decision to the 11th District Court of Appeals in Warren. That court reversed his conviction and sent it back to Portage County for retrial, at which Bozek and his attorney, Larry Whitney, decided to have Pittman decide his fate.

Bozek's appeal and new trial were made possible in part due to a November 2014 ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court. Justices ruled in another Portage County case, State v. Nolan, that "attempted felony murder" is not logically possible -- though that is one of the charges to which Bozek pleaded guilty. Attempted murder would require a defendant to form intent to commit murder. However, felony murder occurs when a person dies in the commission of an underlying felony such as robbery or burglary and does not require intent to kill.

In a ruling handed down April 12, Pittman said Bozek had a separate motivation and intent when he "briefly stopped shooting and left the dining room area to permit the victim to make a 911 call that last over one minute," according to her ruling.

"Then the defendant returned and began firing at the victim again, almost shooting her in the head, and hitting her at least two additional times," Pittman wrote.

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