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CHICAGO (STMW) - They only dated for a few weeks, but 2 1/2 years later Dmitry Smirnov was still so angry about their break-up that he stalked and murdered his former girlfriend, Jitka Vesel, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Pleading guilty Friday to gunning down the 36-year-old Vesel, Smirnov agreed to serve a life sentence for her April 13 slaying.
The 21-year-old Canadian showed no emotion as he told DuPage County Judge Blanche Fawell that he killed his former girlfriend in an Oak Brook parking lot because he remained bitter about her ending their relationship, according to the Sun-Times.
“Because you can’t just expect to just dump someone like that and ignore them for two years and…to get away with it with no consequences and, you know, just waste someone’s life like that,” Smirnov said softly as several of Vesel’s relatives wept in the Wheaton courtroom, the Sun-Times is reporting.
His rambling explanation for the brutal slaying — Vesel was shot 12 times as she tried to run from Smirnov — marked a strange end to an already unusual case.
On Monday, Smirnov stunned Fawell, DuPage County prosecutors and his own attorney when he abruptly announced that he wanted to plead guilty to killing Vesel. Fawell refused then to accept the plea, delaying the hearing until Friday to give Smirnov’s court-appointed attorney more time to discuss his legal options, according to the Sun-Times.
But Smirnov on Friday again insisted he wanted to plead guilty and serve a life sentence — the maximum possible penalty for the murder.
“You will spend the rest of your life in prison, do you understand that?” Fawell asked Smirnov.
“Yes,” he replied calmly, before Fawell accepted his guilty plea, according to the Sun-Times.
DuPage County authorities contend that before the murder, Smirnov researched Illinois law to determine the state had recently abolished the death penalty.
According to the Sun-Times, Smirnov initially met Vesel on the Internet and later traveled to the Chicago area in December 2008 to stay with her for about three weeks, prosecutor David Bayer said.
He returned to Canada and in April 2009 as the relationship sputtered, Vesel cut off all contact with him, Bayer said.
Smirnov earlier this year left his home near Vancouver, British Columbia, and drove into the United States, stopping first in Seattle to buy a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition, prosecutors said.
He meandered through several western states before arriving on April 8 in the Chicago area, prosecutors said. He then searched the Internet to find Vesel’s home in Westmont, and there he glued a GPS device to Vesel’s car, tracking her for several days, Bayer said.
According to the Sun-Times, he ambushed Vesel at about 9 p.m. as she left a business meeting at a Czech fraternal organization in Oak Brook, then shot her 12 times, Bayer said. Five of the shots struck her in the head, he said.
Smirnov quickly called police from his car and admitted carrying out the murder, Bayer said, adding that he also emailed a friend describing the killing, according to the Sun-Times. Smirnov was arrested by Romeoville police later that night — with the gun used in the slaying still in his car, authorities said.
His attorney would only say that he didn’t know why Smirnov was so willing to plead guilty and accept a life sentence within months of being charged. “He agreed to the maximum sentence. I have no reasonable explanation for this,” Assistant Public Defender Steve Dalton said.
Vesel’s relatives declined comment as they left the courtroom.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Smirnov may not have killed Vesel if Illinois still had the death penalty, noting Smirnov after his arrest quickly asked authorities to confirm that he could not be executed for the murder, according to the Sun-Times.
“This case is proof that the death penalty does indeed act as a deterrent,” Berlin said in a statement. “If the death penalty was still the law in Illinois, it is quite possible Jitka Vesel would be alive today.”
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