Ax Attack Victims Call Dad a 'Monster' and 'Coward' at Sentencing
With his kids watching, Aco Simonoski learns his fate in court
Aco Simonoski, who attacked his ex-wife and daughter with an ax last Aug. 21 at their Hollo Oval home, on Wednesday got what his family was hoping for -- the maximum sentence.
Common Pleas Judge Ronald Suster handed down 10-year and eight-year sentences, to run consecutively, for charges of attempted murder and felonious assault.
"We're just so grateful the the judge for giving the maximum sentence," said daughter Bilyana Simonoski, who was injured in the attack.
Speaking for her brother, Alex, and sister, Vesna, Bilyana said the family hopes to move forward now.
"This is our last day as victims," she said. "Now we're survivors."
She and Alex both made passionate pleas to the judge before sentencing, trying to put into words the horror of what Aco, 52, had done.
"Only a monster could be capable of the things he did that night," Alex said. "Only a coward would ambush two women half his size and use a weapon like an ax."
Bilyana described in detail what it was like seeing her mother, Milka, fall to the floor, and how, when she was able to wrestle the ax away, her father tried to pry her fingers off the handle.
And as her mother lay on the floor in a pool of blood, she remembers her father "laughing and smirking" and saying "I told you."
She told the judge she remembered her father "winding up and coming down on my mother's skull with all the force he could muster."
Bilyana also tried to describe the closeness she and her mother shared by reading a note she had written to her on her 50th birthday, calling Milka "my best friend."
"Everything you touch turns to gold," she wrote. "People are better after meeting you."
Suster also gave the siblings a chance to address their father directly. Alex looked at his father when he spoke.
"You're a coward. You know that?" he said, glaring. "You've never been a dad to me. You never will be."
Aco Simonoski stood with his head down for most of the sentencing. He responded to Alex defiantly, saying, "Who saved you?"
Just before sentencing, Aco spoke briefly to the judge, saying he was sorry for what he did. But he also indicated that not all of what his children said about him was true.
On Aug. 21, Aco and Milka argued. The couple was divorced, but Aco had been living with the family on Hollo Oval, and that day, Milka told him to leave.
When Milka and Bilyana returned that afternoon, Aco was waiting for them. They argued again, and Aco went to the garage, got an ax and hit Milka in the head.
When Bilyana tried to defend her mother, Aco chopped her wrist, cutting her so badly the bone was exposed. She wrestled with him, eventually getting him into the garage, where neighbor Tom Drost heard her screams and went to help.
What Aco did next shows he planned the attack, Assistant County Prosecutor Melissa Riley said.
"He attacked his ex-wife and just sat there, smoking a cigarette, until the police arrived," Riley said.
Milka, who was 51 at the time of the attack, remains in a long-term care facility. She is unable to speak, cannot live on her own and needs help with most tasks.
Alex and Bilyana both said their father treated their mother with disrespect, jeering at her, criticizing her body and spitting on her.
After the sentencing, the siblings already knew what they would do next.
"We're going to go see our mother," Bilyana said.
Alex nodded. "We're going to tell her everything's okay."