MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – An ex-convict was sentenced Tuesday to life without parole in the slaying of a couple who were killed after he was mistakenly released from custody.
Selepak pleaded guilty last month to two counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of a 27-year-old pregnant woman, Melissa Berels, and her husband, Scott Berels, also 27. They were found dead Feb. 16.
Selepak had earlier pleaded guilty to shooting and strangling a third victim, Winfield Johnson Jr., 53, on Feb. 21. In a June hearing, he also received a sentence of life without parole in that killing. Michigan does not have the death penalty.
Corrections officials have acknowledged that Selepak, 27, should have been imprisoned for a parole violation charge at the time. Several parole workers were disciplined and state release rules tightened.
"I can't contemplate the nature of a man who could do this to two innocent people," said Raymond Berels, Scott Berels' father. "My son did not even know his murderers."
Authorities say Selepak was assisted by a girlfriend, Samantha Bachynski, 20. She has pleaded not guilty in the three killings.
Selepak has told police and reporters that a cocaine and alcohol binge led to the crime spree.
He was released in June 2005 after serving eight years for armed robbery but was arrested again in November on a parole violation charge. When he didn't get a hearing with 45 days of his arrest, he was erroneously released.