CONNEAUT — The Ohio Parole Board is recommending an inmate convicted of killing a Conneaut man 30 years ago be released on parole — over the objections of the victim’s family.

Thirty years ago, Jeffery Sedmak killed Steven Sabo. Sabo and Sedmak were both 19 and friends at the time, and accounts differ on what happened on the night Sabo was killed.

According to Sedmak, he mistook Sabo for a robber and shot in him in self-defense. Sabo was killed by two shots from a 12-gage shotgun, the first to the chest and the second to the head, from only a few feet away. 

Sedmak later changed his plea to guilty in 1990, and was sentenced to 15 years to life.

Betty Sabo, Steven’s mother, has been fighting against Sedmak’s release since he became eligible for parole.

“Jeff has not even written a letter or anything to say ‘I’m sorry’ in any shape, way or form,” Betty Sabo said. “He hasn’t acknowledged that he’s done wrong, and from what I know of the kid, if he gets out, he’s going to do it again.”

Sedmak became eligible for parole in 1999, and has been denied release several times since then. In the decision to deny Sedmak parole in 2017, the parole board said “the offender lacked empathy during the hearing with the panel and did not display insight into his offense cycle, thus making him a more serious public safety risk.”

Sedmak is currently incarcerated at the Richland Correctional Institution

Sabo has reached out to the Ohio Office of Victim Services to request a hearing before the full parole board, she said.

The full parole board hearing, if it is approved, would be an open hearing, with the potential for people speaking in support of both the victim and the inmate, JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, said.

“We hold (full board hearings) here at our office at least once a month for a couple of days, so they happen pretty frequently,” Smith said.

Inmates video conference in to full board hearings from their assigned institutions, but there is no direct interaction between inmates and representatives of the victims. Additionally, the victim can make their statement outside the presence of the inmate, according to a letter to Sabo from the Office of Victim Services.

Inmates cannot request a full board hearing.

Smith said because the case was still pending, she could not comment on why the parole board had recommended Sedmak receive parole after rejecting every request since 1999.

“It’s very, very hard, and my daughter and I are just wore out from having to do it every other year, but I don’t want to see another family go through what we’ve been going through,” Betty Sabo said.

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