Zielinski sentenced to life in prison

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Peter Zielinski, sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the murder of wife Lisa Zielinski, walks past Lisa’s parents Vern and Rhonda Tupper on the way out of court.
(Craig Murphy/KEIZERTIMES)

By CRAIG MURPHY

Of the Keizertimes

Peter John Zielinski was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday, one day after pleading guilty to murdering his wife, Lisa, at the couple’s Keizer home in January 2011.

Marion County Circuit Judge Dale Penn confirmed the sentence following emotional testimonies from Lisa’s sister, mom and dad. Peter Zielinski also briefly spoke in court.

Rhonda Tupper introduced herself as “Lisa’s brokenhearted mother” and addressed Zielinski directly.

“Pete, you are an unspeakable monster,” Rhonda said. “For your act of extreme cowardice, we will always despise you.”

Lisa’s father, Vern Tupper, nearly collapsed after addressing Zielinski.

“We welcomed you into our home and you betrayed us,” Vern said. “You betrayed us all. You took away our daughter.”

Debbi Geddes, Lisa’s sister, painted a picture of a controlling husband.

“Pete Zielinski murdered my sister,” Geddes said. “He left my family shattered. Pete tried to alienate Lisa from her family and friends. Even visits were monitored. Rather than seeing Lisa as his life partner, she was a possession.”

Penn sentenced Zielinski, 42, to life in prison with a 25-year minimum before a chance of parole, in accordance with Ballot Measure 11 guidelines.

“Probably the most egregious act is the violation of trust and lifelong harm you have imposed on an innocent 8-year-old child,” Penn told Zielinski. “Your 8-year-old will not have her mother to guide her. Because of the harm to your child, I would have imposed a more severe sentence if the law would have allowed me to.”

Zielinski started crying when a 12-minute video collage of photos – also played at Lisa’s funeral – was shown. He also fought back tears while speaking later.

“I don’t know what I can say,” said Zielinski, who looked over at Lisa’s family several times. “I’ve taken something from everyone here. It’s been lost and can never be replaced. No words I could say can ever reconcile that. I expect no forgiveness. Nobody can forgive my sin. But I want you to know, from the depths of my soul, I truly am sorry. You embraced me as one of your own and I betrayed you. You have every right to be angry.”

Doug Hanson, the deputy district attorney who tried the case, called it an honor to work with Lisa’s family.

“We’re finally getting closure for this family,” Hanson said.

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