There was no admission of guilt, no apology, just a promise of a check to make the case go away.
For months, attorneys for the George and Zack families were focused not necessarily on a trial but on reaching a settlement.
After extended negotiations, the two sides reached a $650,000 figure to settle the Zacks' wrongful death lawsuit against Ed and Cynthia George and convicted killer John Zaffino.
The Georges, long figures linked by Akron police to the 2001 murder of Jeff Zack, will pay the six-figure sum to the Stow businessman's 19-year-old son, Brian.
A hearing will be held next month and a Summit County Probate Court magistrate is expected to approve the settlement, putting an end to all pending litigation.
Best for all sides
Akron attorney George Emershaw, who represented Zack's estate in the wrongful death suit, said Wednesday that a settlement was best for all sides.
The Georges released a statement through attorney Orville Reed, saying the settlement was made for a ''measure of peace and equanimity'' for their children and family.
Emershaw said a trial, with all the publicity and drama, would have been lengthy and emotionally taxing on Zack's family. There also was no guarantee of a win, he said, and no promise that the Georges would tell their side of the story under oath.
The case was mediated for several months to stave off a trial and reach an out-of-court agreement, he said.
''After 40 years of my doing this,'' Emershaw said, ''you start to see some of the collateral damage of these trials, and you start thinking a little differently.
''This isn't like a basketball game. These are real people with real lives. People come out of these cases and they're traumatized forever. Especially reliving something like this.''
Jeff Zack, 44, had carried on a 10-year affair with Cynthia George that included fathering one of her seven children. The affair ended several months before he was shot by a motorcyclist outside a gas station on Home Avenue.
Zaffino, who prosecutors say also had an affair with Cynthia George, was convicted of the murder in 2003. Prosecutors also alleged that Cynthia George helped finance Zaffino's purchase of the murder weapon and the motorcycle he used in the shooting. They also said the Georges helped pay for Zaffino's defense.
Cynthia George was arrested in 2005 and convicted of complicity to commit murder. In 2007, in a ruling that stunned police and prosecutors, the 9th District Court of Appeals reversed her conviction for lack of evidence.
She cannot be retried again at the state level. However, the appeals court decision does not bar prosecution at the federal level.
Police sources say federal investigators visited Zaffino, 41, in prison this year in an effort to gain his cooperation. Publicly, Zaffino has denied any involvement in the killing.
Zack's widow, Bonnie Cook, who has remarried since the slaying, did not return a call seeking comment. The George family also did not respond to a request for an interview.
Neither Cynthia nor Ed George, owners of Akron's Tangier restaurant, gave sworn depositions or statements in preparation for the wrongful death lawsuit, which was scheduled for trial on Sept. 15 in Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Emershaw said because of the possible federal investigation, Cynthia George could have invoked her right not to incriminate herself and not answer questions, just as she did at Zaffino's trial in 2004.
The Georges' statement to the media on Wednesday said settling the lawsuit was ''especially difficult,'' given Cynthia George's exoneration by the appeal's court.
''Nevertheless, Mr. and Mrs. George are not the only individuals who have found themselves involved in this tragic saga,'' the statement read.
''The emotional toll paid by their seven children because of the criminal prosecution of their mother and the attendant publicity far exceeds the crushing financial expense of defending that case at trial and prosecuting a successful appeal.
''This civil case was settled to restore a measure of peace and equanimity to the lives of their children and to their immediate families.''
Brian Zack is a student at the University of Akron working toward a degree in engineering. Emershaw said the settlement would be used for his education, with the rest placed in an annuity. Brian Zack will receive about $428,000 from the settlement; his attorneys will receive about $216,000, plus about $6,000 in expenses.
Emershaw said the Georges are paying the entire settlement. The civil case against Zaffino is expected to be dismissed, bringing closure to one of Akron's most notorious murder cases.
''This was really wearing on a lot of individuals,'' Emershaw said. ''This settlement had to be done.''
The following recordings were recently released by Akron police at the request of the Beacon Journal under Ohio's public record laws. The calls to family members were placed from the Summit County Jail over two days by Cynthia George after her arrest in January 2005 and before she was released on bond to await trial. All inmates know their calls are being recorded.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.