Surrey man gets life for Illinois murder

Dmitry Smirnov pleaded guilty Friday to killing his girlfriend

  • Fri Jul 22nd, 2011 10:00am
  • News

A Surrey man accused of killing his former girlfriend in Illinois pleaded guilty Friday and has been sentenced to life in prison.

In an extremely rare occurrence, Dmitry Smirnov, 21, shocked an Illinois courtroom Tuesday by telling a judge he wanted to plead guilty to killing his former girlfriend, Jitka Vesel.

The judge adjourned the hearing until Friday, at which point Smirnov renewed his guilty plea.

Smirnov turned himself in to police not long after Vesel was repeatedly shot in a parking lot in Oak Brook, a suburb outside of Chicago in western Illinois in April.

Smirnov moved to the Chicago area in 2008 after meeting Vesel through an online dating service. Vesel eventually returned to a former boyfriend and Smirnov returned to Canada.

Then, prosecutors said, Smirnov started harassing her online and by phone. Vesel filed a complaint with police after Smirnov threatened to harm her.

Smirnov returned to Illinois, buying a 40-caliber handgun and ammunition along the way and later attached a GPS device to Vesel’s car and tracked her for several days, the court heard.

On April 13, prosecutors said Smirnov approached her in a parking lot and started shooting and as he was reloading, she threw her coffee on him and fell to the ground. He continued firing, prosecutors say. She was found with numerous shots to the head and body.

Smirnov later called the Chicago police and admitted the slaying, the prosecutor alleges.

Police found a gun in his car and 11 casings at the scene.  Smirnov later provided a videotaped confession.

The prosecutor said Smirnov went through with his plan after researching to see if Illinois had the death penalty. Just months ago, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation banning the death penalty in the state.

Smirnov is expected to spend the rest of his life in jail.

@diakiw