A Canadian man accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend in Oak Brook after researching the death penalty told a DuPage County judge Monday he wants to plead guilty.
Dmitry Smirnov, 21, of Surrey, British Columbia, faces five counts of first-degree murder in the April 13 killing of 36-year-old Jitka Vesel. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to life in prison.
In court Monday, Smirnov's public defender told Judge Blanche Hill Fawell his client had just disclosed his intention to plead guilty. When the judge asked if he was aware of his rights, Smirnov responded affirmatively.
"I understand," he said. "I just want to plead guilty."
Smirnov could enter the plea as early as Friday. Fawell held over the case until then to give prosecutors time to notify the victim's family and prepare a proffer of evidence.
She also advised Smirnov to continue consultations with his attorney.
"I would really caution you to talk to your attorney -- and ask any questions you have," Fawell told him. "Just so you understand, you have every right to change your mind."
Prosecutors said Smirnov called police and gave a videotaped confession, just hours after he ambushed Vesel and shot her several times in the head and body.
The killing happened about 9 p.m. in a parking lot at the offices of a Czechoslovak fraternity on the 100 block of West 22nd Street, where Vesel had been volunteering. At one point during the attack, prosecutors said, Smirnov reloaded and continued to fire.
Authorities said Smirnov met Vesel through an online dating service in 2008 and went on to have a relationship with her in Illinois. Vesel later reunited with an old boyfriend, and Smirnov moved back to Canada, though prosecutors said he continued to call her and send emails.
About three weeks before the slaying, prosecutors said, Smirnov traveled from Canada to Seattle and bought a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition, then returned to the Chicago area and looked up Vesel's most recent address.
He is accused of locating Vesel in Oak Brook by affixing a tracking device to the bottom of her vehicle. Authorities said a laptop computer later found in Smirnov's possession showed he also researched the death penalty, which had been abolished in Illinois a month earlier.
A group of apparent friends or relatives of Vesel's declined to comment outside of court Monday. Smirnov remained in the county jail without bond.