Detroiter gets up to 60 years in elderly man’s death

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit — Scott Monchnik recalled Friday the November night he arrived on Bentler and saw his loving childhood home burned and blackened, and blood on the floor from where his father had been beaten to death.

Monchnik said this “scene from hell” has traumatized his family and will haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Monchnik family addresses the media after the George Steward sentencing. Left to right: Rae Monchnik, Scott Monchnik, and Madalyn Monchnik. Scott is the son of murder victim Paul Monchnik. Rae is Scott's wife, and Madalyn is their daughter.

“His life was brutally taken from us by a monster,” Monchnik said. “The terrible sickening feeling I get thinking that my dad’s last hour on Earth was filled with horror and pain, worse than anything he went through in the war.”

The Monchnik family said they felt a sense of closure to the death of 91-year-old Paul Monchnik. Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan sentenced George Steward IV, the man convicted in the brutal murder, to 30-60 years in prison.

Steward, 18, of Detroit, pleaded guilty earlier this month to second-degree murder.

Authorities say Steward beat Monchnik to death, and then doused him with gasoline before setting him on fire last November. Steward lived next door to Monchnik with his grandfather, family members say. His motive is unknown.

During Friday’s sentencing, Steward apologized to the Monchnik family and said he was “remorseful.”

“Each and every day I wish I could take it back,” he said. “No one should be able to leave this world like that. I’m sorry for the loss I caused their family, for the heartache I put in their hearts. Hopefully one day they can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

Outside of court, Steward’s family and friends defended him.

George Steward begins to show emotion as a victim's statement is read in court. Seated behind him is his attorney Gabi Silver.

His sister, Taige Steward, said her brother was not a “monster” and had never been in trouble before this murder.

“I feel sorry for the family and for my family as well, because we are all going through,” Steward said. “I know he honestly feels terrible about what happened.”

Tyrone Davison, a Steward family friend, said the family wants to appeal the sentence.

“It’s an unfortunate situation on both sides,” he said. “I think it’s more to the story than what’s been told.”

At Steward’s preliminary exam earlier this year, Detroit police Sgt. Brian Bowser testified Monchnik’s cellphone was found in the backyard of the Steward family home on the 20500 block of Bentler the day after the elderly man’s body was found in his burned-out home.

A gas station attendant also testified Steward bought 50 cents’ worth of gasoline and a lighter the morning his elderly neighbor was killed and set ablaze.

Monchnik was a longtime Detroiter, World War II veteran and self-employed television repairman for more than 50 years. Family members say he lived alone in the house.

Scott Monchnik described his father as a “good and gentle man” who had hoped to live to see 100 years old.

“This man (Steward) has created a hole in all of us that is filled with anger and hatred, fear and loss,” Monchnik said. “You have taken something that was not yours to take.”

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Twitter: @NicquelTerry