Crime & Courts

Trial underway for man accused of slaying McHenry County native

Kenneth S. Seplak, 39, Round Lake Beach
Kenneth S. Seplak, 39, Round Lake Beach

A jury trial began Tuesday for a man accused of fatally shooting a McHenry County native after the victim saw a movie with a woman whom police say the alleged killer was stalking.

David Gorski, a former Crystal Lake resident who graduated from Marian Central Catholic High School and McHenry County College, was discovered dead in his car late Dec. 23, 2016. Kenneth S. Seplak is accused of shooting the 30-year-old after he witnessed Gorski and the woman leaving a Vernon Hills movie theater together. He is charged with first-degree murder and has been free on bond since January 2017.

When police asked the woman if anyone in her life might want to hurt Gorski, one person stood out in her memory, she said.

"My heart sank because Kenny came to my mind," she said. "Right away."

Throughout the week, prosecutors plan to show Google Maps data and cellphone records that place 39-year-old Seplak in the area at the time of the shooting. Jurors also are expected to hear testimony from forensic investigators who linked the bullet found in Gorski's chest to a gun Seplak allegedly stashed at a friend's house after the murder, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Daniel Hodgkinson said there are no witnesses or surveillance videos that can prove Seplak committed the murder.

"We believe the evidence will show something else entirely," the attorney said.

In the months leading up to to Gorski's death, Seplak had lent about $13,000 to a woman whom he repeatedly professed his love to through text messages, prompting her to block his phone number, police said.

During their investigation, officers found 196 blocked text messages that Seplak sent between Sept. 30, 2016 and Dec. 23, 2016, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force investigator Shaun Knight said.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to be in your life," Seplak wrote in a Nov. 2016 text message to the woman, who had previously blocked his number.

Months went by without a response, and on Dec. 23, 2016, Seplak sent a final plea for the woman's attention.

"Talk to me... Stop ignoring me."

That's the last text message that Lake County prosecutors say Seplak sent to the "the woman of his dreams" before he allegedly shot and killed Gorski.

Police believe Seplak followed the woman to the movie theater that afternoon, and went unnoticed as he watched her make stops at a gas station and health food store along the way. During the movie, he drove back to his Round Lake Beach home and returned in time to watch the couple exit the theater together, prosecutors said.

Gorski only made it about half a mile north of the theater on his way home before a bullet entered his arm and pierced his heart, prosecutors said.

The trial will pick back up Wednesday in Lake County court.

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