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.
"You are truly an evil man," Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti told Patrick Selepak as he handed down the mandatory sentence.
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.