A Surrey man accused of killing his former girlfriend in Illinois after researching the state law on the death penalty, pleaded not guilty in a U.S. courtroom Monday.
Surrey’s Dmitry Smirnov, 20, 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.
On Monday, Smirnov appeared in an Oak Brook courtroom and entered not guilty to first-degree murder of 36-year-old Vesel.
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 on the Internet and by phone. She filed a complaint with police after Smirnov threatened to harm her.
He 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 are saying.
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, the prosecutors said. 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.
He returns to court on June 20 and because Illinois has abolished the death penalty, prosecutors will be seeking a 100-year prison term.