A man serving a 12-year sentence in the death of his late wife’s naturopathic caregiver was given early release Monday.
Omer Ahmetovic, 36, of Bowling Green, had served 21 months of his sentence when his motion for shock probation was granted by Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson.
Ahmetovic was released Monday from the Warren County Regional Jail and will remain on probation for five years, during which he will be required to maintain employment, commit no new offenses and adhere to other conditions.
Ahmetovic, who pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence, was arrested in the death of naturopathic caregiver Juan Gonzalez.
The 59-year-old Gonzalez was found shot at his business, The Natural Health Center for Integrative Medicine, on March 3, 2017.
Shock probation is a form of early release available to newly sentenced people in Kentucky convicted of certain low-level felony offenses and is typically sought by first-time offenders.
The judge who presided over the criminal case decides whether to grant shock probation, typically after a hearing in open court.
Alan Simpson, Ahmetovic’s attorney, took his client from jail to Fountain Square Church, where he was reunited with several friends and relatives.
Ahmetovic had been involved with the homeless ministry at the church.
“His family has gotten him a place to live and I think he has a job,” Simpson said. “He plans to continue to work with the homeless ministry and I’m sure he’ll be sharing his story.”
The Bowling Green Police Department arrested Ahmetovic on March 8, 2017, on a charge of murder, and he remained behind bars until his release Monday.
“He has been very instrumental while he was incarcerated in leading prayer services and teaching the Bible,” Simpson said. “He was an absolute model inmate.”
As the criminal case progressed, it was revealed that Ahmetovic’s wife, Fikreta Ibrisevic, had been one of Gonzalez’s clients at his practice.
The couple had visited Gonzalez’s practice to discuss natural therapies after Ibrisevic received a cancer diagnosis.
Gonzalez would go on to be accused in a lawsuit filed by the couple of fraud, negligence, battery, practicing medicine without a license, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit alleged Gonzalez dissuaded Ibrisevic from undergoing chemotherapy and guaranteed she would be cancer-free after using his treatments for three months.
Ibrisevic would go on to develop additional tumors, and two naturopathic experts concluded that she had a toxic reaction from an excessive amount of herbs administered by Gonzalez, according to the lawsuit.
Ibrisevic died Feb. 27, 2017, and the lawsuit was active in Warren Circuit Court when Gonzalez was killed.
Simpson filed a motion for shock probation last month on behalf of Ahmetovic, arguing that his client had acted under extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the shooting and he was “overcome with anger and revenge” after his wife died.
“I think he’s got a sense of peace about him and knew that, whatever decision was made, he was going to have to live with it, but he’s very relieved to be released,” Simpson said Tuesday. “He just wants to move forward with his life and take care of his children.”
At a hearing before Wilson last week, Ahmetovic said he was remorseful.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret my actions,” Ahmetovic said at the Dec. 3 shock probation hearing. “I have a pain that never leaves my heart.”
Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron opposed shock probation, arguing that it unduly depreciated the serious nature of the offenses.
“The commonwealth obviously disagrees with the court’s ruling with regard to this case,” Cohron said. “However, this case had a unique set of circumstances that we have not previously seen in a homicide case.”
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.