(WXYZ) — It was a year ago when Shawn Kubic died after being sucker-punched at a bar in St. Clair Shores.
His family is still demanding justice, after months of protests. But they fear justice is slipping away.
“Shawn was just wonderful, just wonderful," Kathy Zelmanski, his mom, said.
It’s been 12 months of agony for Kathy and her sister Kelly Ingels.
Shawn was sucker-punched after getting into a verbal argument with a group of people at Kapones Sports Tavern on Harper Avenue, north of 9 Mile Road.
Hatum Akrawi was arrested for throwing the punch.
In the surveillance video, you can see Shawn is looking in the other direction when he gets punched. You can also see Shawn laying on the ground, no one looking to see if he’s okay.
Akrawi was facing second-degree murder charges, but those have been dropped.
Kelly says because Shawn died from injuries he suffered from hitting his head on the floor, rather than the punch itself, Akrawi is not facing the charges they believe he should.
“Shawn would never have fallen had he had not been sucked punched, he was blindsided,” Kelly said.
It has been a winding road to justice.
Kathy says a previous judge overseeing the case, who refused to accept a plea from the defendant, was forced to step down from the case.
Akrawi was back in court Monday in front of a different judge.
Shawn’s family protested outside, not knowing what was going to be another devastating blow to them
“It was painful enough losing Shawn last December and then have to go all through,” Kathy explained. “One month after the other after the other.”
Kathy says the judge accepted the defendant’s guilty plea to manslaughter charges.
That likely means the man who threw the punch won’t be facing as much jail time as Kathy and Kelly had hoped.
Shawn died the day after Christmas last year, just days before his 48th birthday.
He leaves behind a teenage daughter.
“He was a wonderful person all the way around, very giving,” Kathy added.
That giving spirit continued; Shawn was an organ donor, improving the lives of seven organ recipients.
The tight-knit family has to spend this holiday season with a huge hole in their heart and the thought that the justice they want may now be out of reach.
“Every day is agony without him,” Kathy said while fighting tears.
Akrawi is expected to be sentenced in February.