Chicago Heights Man Charged With Murder of Hometown Woman
A Cook County judge set bail at $2 million for man accused of fatally shooting his live-in girlfriend in the face in March.
Bail was set at $2 million for a Chicago Heights man accused of killing the mother of his two children.
George Kleopa, 32, appeared before Cook County Judge Darron E. Bowden in Markham on Wednesday morning, where he was charged with first-degree murder of Michele V. Peters, 30, formerly of Hometown.
Peters was found fatally shot with a gunshot wound to the face in the Chicago Heights home she shared with Kleopa on March 6. Kleopa called 911 to report that Peters had shot herself, according to the criminal complaint.
Kleopa appeared calm as he was led into court after being taken into police custody Tuesday, wearing a pink shirt, slacks and glasses.
As Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Richard Stake related the facts of the case in court, members of Peters' family wept.
Stake said that Kleopa and Peters had been a couple for 14 years and had two young sons together. Witnesses reported that on the night of her death they heard the couple arguing about Kleopa seeing another woman.
Chicago Heights police said that Kleopa changed his story several times of how Peters came be to fatally shot in the face when he was first taken into police custody in March, Stake told the judge.
Kleopa allegedly told police that Peters had shot herself, then said that Peters was bringing him the gun for him to clean and "it went off."
In another account, Stake said, Peters was bringing him the gun to "play with it" and it went off.
Investigators at the crime scene determined that it would take "six pounds of pressure to fire the gun with the safety off," according to the criminal complaint.
Kleopa was released without being charged in March, but was arrested on Tuesday.
His attorney, Marc Wolfe, asked that bail be set at $100,000, arguing that Kleopa had no criminal background or violent history.
Judge Bowden set bail at $2 million and ordered Kleopa to surrender his passport. As Kleopa was led back into custody, he looked at Peters' family sitting in the courtroom.
Kleopa's mother, sister and brother-in-law were also in the courtroom on Wednesday, but declined to comment, as did his attorney.
Catherine Peters, Michele's mother, said that the "high bail is one step closer to getting him out of everyone's life."
Kleopa faces 20 years up to life in prison if convicted.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 15.