Glen Szerkins was quite sick before he died in May 2018.
He had throat cancer. Walworth County Assistant District Attorney Haley Johnson said Thursday the main cause of his death was carcinoma, and she also discussed with a medical examiner his high blood pressure, a disease of the arteries and esophageal polyps.
“Because of his issues, he was more vulnerable to respiratory distress or problems,” she said.
But she added that his system was “compromised” by hydrocodone and alprazolam, of which Xanax is a common brand.
Nonetheless, Johnson did not charge Glen’s nephew, Michael A. Szerkins II, with reckless homicide—as is the case in overdose deaths where it is determined a drug was at least a substantial factor in someone’s death.
Michael Szerkins, 38, of 1704 Birchwood St., No. 4, Delavan, instead was charged with and pleaded guilty Oct. 31 to delivering the Schedule IV drug.
But given his lack of a recent criminal history, favorable reviews from those who worked with him and the fact this was not a homicide case, Judge Phillip Koss sentenced Michael Szerkins to three years of probation.
Koss also sentenced him to 90 days in the county jail with work release. Conditions of his probation include paying a $500 fine plus court costs and not sharing medication.
Glen Szerkins’ girlfriend on May 24, 2018, found him dead in the living room, according to the criminal complaint. Glen Szerkins, 58, of Elkhorn, had been acting strangely in the preceding hours after coming in from doing work in the driveway.
He said he ate “candy,” and his girlfriend found pills labeled as “Sweet Tarts” on his lap, the complaint states.
Text messages showed Michael Szerkins on May 21 told his uncle, “Waz up You in Elkhorn I got something for you,” according to the complaint.
Johnson, as part of plea negotiations, did not make a recommendation on Michael Szerkins’ sentence. But she read other text messages from his phone that show him trying to acquire drugs other times.
Frank Lettenberger, Michael Szerkins’ lawyer, said his client has been out of the criminal justice system for more than a decade, around when he had some intoxicated driving offenses.
Michael Szerkins was on his own and working since age 16 when he dropped out with a ninth-grade education, Lettenberger said. But Michael Szerkins has been working since then and is “respected” in the community for his flooring work.
Michael Szerkins had a “tumultuous” relationship with his uncle, Lettenberger said., but his client had some supporters present in court Thursday, including Glen Szerkins’ son Richard.
Lettenberger said Michael Szerkins was uncomfortable speaking in public and apologized on his behalf to the community and Glen Szerkins’ family members.
Michael Szerkins, however, then spoke briefly and said he was “very sorry.”
“I’ll take full responsibility,” he told Koss. “I’ll follow all the rules recommended to me.
“That’s about it, sir.”
Michael Szerkins has until Monday, Jan. 27, to report for his jail term.