Suspect in suitcase deaths to enter plea


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Suspect in suitcase deaths to enter plea

By The Associated Press. CREATED Jul 17, 2014

ELKHORN -- A former police officer charged with dumping two bodies in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin road is due in court at 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

Steven Zelich, 52, is scheduled to attend a plea hearing in Walworth County Circuit Court on two counts of hiding a corpse.

Zelich's attorney, Travis Schwantes, says the charges might not stand up because prosecutors need to show the former West Allis officer tried to conceal a crime. Schwantes says Zelich claims he killed the two women in the suitcases accidentally during sexual encounters.

Authorities say homicide charges are expected to be filed in the counties where the women died. The bodies of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, and 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minnesota, were found in the suitcases by highway workers June 5.