A guilty plea in the Rose Downwind murder case could send her former boyfriend to prison for 35 years.
Marchello Cimmarusti, 40, was in court Monday to sign a petition pleading guilty to second-degree murder, the Bemidji Pioneer reports.
Cimmarusti, who had violated a no-contact order by visiting Downwind on October 20, initially said she had fallen down a flight of stairs during a struggle over her phone. But an autopsy later found Downwind had been strangled.
Lakeland Public Television says the courtroom at the Beltrami County Judicial Center was standing-room-only Monday as Cimmarusti signed his plea agreement and told a judge he understood his rights.
Sentencing is set for Oct. 28 but the station says the plea agreement calls for 35 years in prison.
Native News Online reports Cimmarusti, who had three children with Downwind, told the court Monday that he "snapped" on the night he killed her.
Two men who allegedly helped Cimmarusti dispose of Downwind's body are charged with aiding an offender.
The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women reports Downwind was one of 34 Minnesotans who died last year as a result of domestic violence.