Surrey man wants to plead guilty

U.S. judge is giving alleged murderer til Friday to change his mind

Dmitry Smirnov

A Surrey man accused of killing his former girlfriend in Illinois after researching the state law on the death penalty, asked a judge Monday if he could plead guilty.

The extremely rare call made by Dmitry Smirnov, 21, seemed to catch prosecutors and the judge by surprise.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Assistant Public Defender Steven Dalton, representing Smirnov, said he was “taken by surprise today” by his client’s request. He was not told about it until minutes before the hearing.

The judge adjourned the hearing until Friday, when she will consider the change from Smirnov who pled not guilty in May.

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

It’s alleged 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 believe, 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, prosecutors say.

On April 13, it’s alleged 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.

If he pleads guilty he could spend the rest of his life in jail.

@diakiw