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Suspect in 2000 killing is reconsidering plea deal

Suspect in 2000 killing is reconsidering plea deal

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RACINE — One of the two men accused of killing a mother of three 19 years ago is reconsidering a plea deal.

Elias J. Burgos, 38 — who was arrested in August 2017 in connection to the shooting of 39-year-old Juanita Zdroik, a Milwaukee woman whose body was found on the side of Highway K in the Town of Raymond in February 2000 — had been offered a plea deal by state prosecutors.

A plea hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday morning. During that hearing, defense attorney Dan Sanders told the court that Burgos had planned on accepting the deal.

But, before the hearing, Sanders said that Burgos had decided he needed more time to consider the offer.

“He (Burgos) wishes to speak to me in more detail about the state’s offer and the circumstances around it,” Sanders explained. “This is a big decision for Mr. Burgos, as I’m sure the court understands.”

A new plea hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 20.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Racine County Circuit Court Judge Mark Nielsen still made sure to schedule a trial date. He said he didn’t want to have the case drag on any longer than it needs to, considering charges were filed more than two years ago.

A four-day trial is set to begin on Jan. 14 if Burgos doesn’t accept the plea.

Other suspect

Miguel A. Cruz, 41, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in this case, while Burgos was charged with first-degree intentional homicide as a party to a crime.

Cruz has pleaded not guilty. A trial for him is expected to begin Sept. 23.

The breakthrough in the case came two years ago, when a man being interviewed by Milwaukee Police said he witnessed Zdroik being killed.

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