TOPEKA, Kan. Michael Dean Engstrom, 34, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Wednesday, according to Shawnee Co. District Attorney Chad Taylor. The former Topekan was accused of killing Ricky Mitchell and wounding Bridget Gakle in February of last year.
In addition to the murder charge, he also pleaded guilty to intentional attempted murder in the second degree, said Taylor. The murder charge carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 20 years, he added. Engstrom is set to be sentenced on May 30, 2014.
The plea comes nearly a month after prosecutors announced Engstrom's wife was cooperating with them and is expected to testify against her husband.
After killing Mitchell and injuring Gakle at a Topeka apartment complex near 12th and Topeka Blvd. in February 2013, police said he, his wife Jamie, and a 14 year-old child fled to Nebraska.
The next morning, authorities say he robbed a Casey's General Store in Pawnee City, Nebraska which led to a high-speed chase, gunfight and his capture. A Nebraska judge sentenced Engstrom to more than 80 years in prison for those crimes.
Jamie Engstrom pleaded to a count of felony child abuse for the Nebraska incidents. She was sentenced in August to five years in prison and returned to Shawnee County in October.
She faces the same charges as her husband in Shawnee County. Her trial was scheduled to begin April 14th, but is delayed until July 28th. Prosecutors say she will give a formal statement against her husband as she negotiates a plea.
Posted by Nick Viviani