By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Nearly three years after the incident, Peter John Zielinski on Monday pled guilty in the murder of his wife, Lisa Zielinski.
Peter Zielinski’s murder trial was set to begin this week at the Marion County Courthouse, after being delayed several times.
Peter, 42, had been charged with murder with firearm for the Jan. 12, 2011 killing of his wife, who was found deceased at the family’s Nightingale Court NE home in Keizer with a gunshot wound to the head.
Peter’s attorneys entered a not guilty plea based on extreme emotional disturbance in the fall of 2011.
In late 2011, a jury trial was scheduled for May 2012, but that was pushed back. In June 2012, a trial for this March was scheduled. That got pushed back to September, before being pushed back again to this week.
Jury selection was set to begin Monday, Nov. 18 with the trial in front of Marion County Circuit Judge Dale Penn starting on Tuesday. Doug Hanson, the Marion County deputy district attorney handling the case, said more than 100 potential jurors were on hand waiting for jury selection Monday when the change happened.
“He did change his plea today,” Hanson said of Peter Zielinski. “He changed it to guilty on one count of murder with firearm. It did surprise me, in that it happened the morning trial started.”
Sentencing is scheduled to take place Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. in Penn’s courtroom. Lisa Zielinski’s family, present when the changed plea was entered Monday, is expected to make statements on Tuesday.
“We’re always hopeful the defendant will do the right thing,” Hanson said of Monday’s development. “That was a good thing. There’s been a lot of work put into the case on both sides, so in that case it was disappointing to have the change (so late).”
Lisa Zielinski, 38, worked in sales and public relations at KYKN-AM radio in Keizer, sang in the church choir at St. Edward Catholic Church and was a greeter for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.
A probable cause statement released after Peter’s arrest stated he shot his wife, believing she was having an affair. Police said he came to the Keizer Civic Center shortly after, calling 911 to inform dispatchers his wife needed an ambulance.