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Copy-Zelich extradition to Minnesota delayed after disagreements in Wisconsin court

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ELKHORN, Wis. (KTTC/AP) -- It will be a little longer before a former Milwaukee area police officer accused of killing two women and ditching their bodies in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin highway will face extradition to Rochester, where he's charged in the death of one of the victims.

Proceedings in Wisconsin were expected to wrap up with a plea and sentencing of Steven Zelich on two counts of hiding a corpse in Walworth County Wednesday. Instead, a disagreement led to a court date set for October. 

According to court records, a plea agreement between the State and Zelich was changed in court Wednesday. The original agreement would have had Zelich peto one count, while the other would have been dismissed. Wednesday, the State changed the offer to have Zelich plead to both counts against him. 

Under the new agreement, the recommended sentence would be for five years of confinement and ten years of extended supervision. 

Judge David Reddy questioned the leniency of the sentence, to which District Attorney Daniel Necci said he believed the new agreement would be the best way to get Zelich on his way to Minnesota. 

Judge Reddy determined that he had some concerns about the case and recommended proceeding in one of two ways: either have the case go to trial or have Zelich enter a plea and have a pre-sentence investigation completed before a separate sentencing hearing.

The defense decided to go forth with setting a trial date, rather than taking a plea Wednesday. The final pre-trial hearing is scheduled for September 28, with trial set to begin October 3.

The 54-year-old Zelich has already been sentenced in Kenosha County to 35 years in prison in the 2012 death of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Details of the Wisconsin case are similar to accusations Zelich faces in the death of Laura Simonson, who was killed in Rochester, Minnesota, in 2013. Authorities say he met both women online, choked them at hotels during sexual encounters and hid their bodies in suitcases.

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