Ax Wielder Seeks Mercy, Gets Prison — (The Plain Dealer)

SSRI Ed note: Man gets violent and destructive when he mixes alcohol and his antidepressants. Gets 15 yrs for assault.

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The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

March 24, 1994


Pleading for freedom, Dante Savron yesterday bared his immigrant’s soul to a judge, telling him in broken English and through tears how his father was killed by Nazis, how he loves America, how he has put his children through college and been a good provider.

And how alcoholism and psychological problems were to blame for his criminal acts: taking an ax to his Eastlake house, where on July 7 he attacked the walls, windows and furniture, and then ramming a police cruiser head-on with his pickup truck, injuring a police officer.

But Lake County Common Pleas Judge Paul H. Mitrovich told him that America has laws, just like Savron’s native Yugoslavia, and Savron wouldn’t get away with breaking the law in either country. Mitrovich put him in prison for four to 15 years for felonious assault .

“For a man who loved freedom, Mr. Savron, you sure abuse it, and have abused it for a number of years,” Mitrovich said.

Savron, 51, an alcoholic and manic-depressive who came to the United States about 25 years ago, has gotten in trouble since 1986, when he was arrested for aggravated menacing. He was convicted of drunken driving in 1990, and in 1992 got caught stealing 123 trees from a tree farm in Geauga County. He planted some at his home on S. Lake Shore Blvd. in Eastlake, and police said he was planning to use the trees to start a landscaping business.

He later was caught near a stand of trees amid similarly suspicious circumstances in Mayfield. But since police couldn’t prove he was trying to dig up trees there, Savron was charged with trespassing instead.

But until yesterday, he had avoided prison and got probation for his earlier trouble.

“It appears obvious to everyone, including Dante, that there are two problems here,” his lawyer, assistant Public Defender Charles R. Grieshammer, said yesterday in court. Savron’s manic depression was well-documented, Grieshammer said, but Savron until recently refused to deal with his alcohol addiction of 40 years.

“I was a sick person,” Savron admitted, tears streaming down his face. “I don’t know what happened to me.” When he attacked his home with an ax, he said, “I was drinking for three days.” His wife had gone to her mother’s house, he said, and he started drinking German beer and cognac, mixing it with his anti-depressive medication. For those three days, he didn’t eat or sleep, he said. “I was sick …”

In his drunken state, he attacked nearly every window in his home, slashed furniture, smashed a television and took the ax to a photograph of himself and his wife. He then got in his pickup and headed toward Hillcrest Dr. and three cruisers.

Savron collided head-on with one, sending officer James Oversteet to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Overstreet, who is suing Savron, was off work recuperating several weeks to a month after the accident, Eastlake Police Chief Gary Fink said.

Savron said yesterday that he was sorry for injuring Overstreet, but that he did not know what he was doing.

“My dad was killed by Nazis. … My life was so hard. I’m so proud of my children and what they are today,” Savron said.

But Mitrovich said, “This isn’t the first time. You’re not here like an innocent lamb.”

Record Number: 07583163
Copyright 1994, 2002 The Plain Dealer. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.