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Wisconsin ex-policeman pleads not guilty in suitcase corpse case

By Brendan O'Brien

KENOSHA Wis. (Reuters) - A former Wisconsin police officer entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of first-degree homicide in a case where he is accused of choking a woman to death, stuffing her body in a suitcase and dumping the luggage on a rural road.

Steven Zelich, 52, was charged in Kenosha County with killing 21-year-old Jenny Gamez of Cottage Grove, Oregon, in 2012 after they met online and he invited her to come to Milwaukee.

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder set an Oct. 21 status hearing in the case.

Zelich is also accused in another county of hiding the corpse of another woman, also in a suitcase. He is not charged with murder in the second case involving 37-year-old Laura Simonson.

Police have said Zelich told them he killed the women accidentally during sexual encounters in hotels that he set up with them online.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Peter Cooney)