Kenosha, WI (KROC-AM News) - A former Milwaukee area police officer charged with murdering a Farmington woman in Rochester has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for the death of an Oregon college student in Wisconsin.

54-year-old Steven Zelich earlier pleaded guilty to a first-degree reckless homicide charge in Kenosha County Court just as his trial was set to begin for the 2012 choking death of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez. Her body, and the body of 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, were found stuffed in suitcases that were left along a rural highway near Lake Geneva Wisconsin in 2014.

His sentencing order indicates he will be required to serve at least 35 years behind bars before he is eligible for release.

Olmsted County authorities allege Zelich killed Simonson at a Rochester hotel in November 2013. When the charges were filed, County Attorney Mark Ostrem indicated he would wait until the criminal proceedings were completed in Wisconsin before he would bring Zelich back to Rochester to be arraigned on first and second degree murder charges in Olmsted County Court.

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