A New York sex offender is expecting a 23-year sentence after admitting that he suffocated an aspiring dancer from Texas and dumped her body 85 miles away.
Michael Mele of Wallkill pleaded guilty in January to manslaughter in the death of Laura Garza. The 25-year-old Garza disappeared in 2008 after Mele picked her up in a Manhattan nightclub.
Mele said Garza demanded to leave his apartment after learning that he had a girlfriend. As she got louder, he said, he suffocated her. Then he stuffed her body into a laundry basket and drove to Pennsylvania to dump her.
Some of Garza's relatives were unhappy that the 26-year-old Mele escaped a murder trial and conviction. He could have been sentenced to 25 years to life if found guilty of murder.