Michael Mele, a convicted sex offender, admitted to killing Texan dancer Laura Garza after he met her at a Manhattan nightclub three years ago.
In his unexpected guilty plea, Mele said he suffocated the 25-year-old at his upstate apartment after she realized he had a girlfriend and got upset, according to The Associated Press. A judge agreed to sentence him to 23 year on manslaughter charges and 16 months to four years on evidence tampering.
Laura was in my apartment, and she saw a picture of a girl and female-related items that were my girlfriend's. She was upset ... she wanted to leave. I didn't want to drive back then, Mele said in an Orange Country court. She got upset ... she started to get a little louder. I put my hand over her mouth and partially her nose, and shortly after that, she stopped yelling, stopped moving, and I realized something had happened.
He said he then panicked and instead of calling 911, he drove out into the Pennsylvania woods to dump her body.
I put her in a laundry basket and put a blanket over it, Mele said.
Garza's family told reporters they are unhappy with the sentencing, to be officially announced on March 6.
Ivan Garza, Laura's brother, said the 23-year punishment is too short, according to the New York Daily News. For me, there is no justice.
He should be put away for the rest of his life because he took my heart, wept her mother, Elizabeth Esquivel, according to the paper. I hope he melts in jail.
Garza was an aspiring dancer who moved from Texas to New York City to pursue her dream career. Surveillance camera last caught her on Dec. 3, 2008 leaving the Marquee nightclub in Manhattan with Mele.
Her body was found on April 2010 outside Scranton, Pennsylvania.
At the time of Garza's disappearance, Mele was on parole for several sex-offense convictions, most involving approaching women while fondling himself, according to The Associated Press.