Ex-officer accused of hiding 2 bodies due in court

Steven Zelich appears in a Walworth County courtroom for his preliminary hearing Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Elkhorn.
Steven Zelich appears in a Walworth County courtroom for his preliminary hearing Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Elkhorn. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) – A former police officer charged with dumping two bodies hidden in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin road is due in court to enter a plea.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich is scheduled for a plea hearing in Walworth County Circuit Court Thursday on two counts of hiding a corpse.

Zelich’s public defender, Travis Schwantes, says the charges of hiding a corpse might not stand up because prosecutors would have to show the former West Allis officer tried to cover up a crime. Schwantes says Zelich claims he killed the two women in the suitcases accidentally during sexual encounters.

Authorities say homicide charges are expected to be filed in the counties where the women died. The bodies of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, and 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minnesota, were found in the suitcases by highway workers June 5.

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