ROCHESTER, Minn. (KRON) — A former Wisconsin police officer claimed he accidentally choked a woman to death with a rope during sex.
Steven Zelich, 55, entered a guilty plea to 2nd degree murder in a crowded courtroom Friday morning.
37 year-old Laura Simonson was killed at the Microtel Inn and Suites in northwest Rochester in 2013, according to officials.
Zelich said he accidentally choked her with a rope while having sex, officials said.
Simonson’s remains were found in suitcases along a highway near Lake Geneva in June of 2014, officials said.
Simonson’s ex-husband and four of her six children sat in the front row of the courtroom as Zelich was tried.
The victim’s family expressed disappointment that Zelich did not receive the maximum sentence of 40 years. One of her daughters said Zelich is “a monster that deserves the worst possible punishment.”
Zelich is currently serving a 35 year prison sentence in Minnesota. Last year he was charged with first degree reckless homicide and hiding the body of 19 year-old Jenny Gamez of Oregon in 2012.
Gamez was also killed during sex.
Zelich will be 88 years old by the time he finishes his prison time in Minnesota.
Simonson’s family said they will remember her as a creative, caring and honest person.