Man Pleads Guilty but Mentally Ill in Killing of Officer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    New Castle County Police
    David Salasky is charged with the murder of Sgt. Joseph Szczerba.

    A Wilmington man charged with fatally stabbing a New Castle County police officer has pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the crime.

    Thirty-four-year-old David Salasky Jr. entered the plea Monday to first-degree murder in the slaying of 44-year-old Officer Joseph Szczerba (ZER-bah) in September 2011.

    Salasky entered the plea as jury selection was under way in a trial. He faces an automatic sentence of two life terms plus an additional 153 years.

    Fellow Officers Tried to Save Sgt. Szczerba

    [PHI] Fellow Officers Tried to Save Sgt. Szczerba
    Police Sgt. Joseph Szczerba was stabbed to death while chasing a suspect. He's the first New Castle County officer to die in the line of duty since 1972.

    Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter did not immediately set a sentencing date.

    Szczerba, an 18-year veteran, was stabbed after he caught up to Salasky during a foot chase. Szczerba was rushed to Christiana Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

    A judge last week denied several pretrial motions by the defense, including motions to suppress evidence and to preclude prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against a severely mentally ill defendant.

    According to court records, Salasky has both a long criminal history and a history of mental health issues. Defense attorneys have suggested that he was delusional and high on mind-altering chemicals when Szczerba was killed.

    Two other officers were injured in the incident, but their injuries weren't life-threatening.

    "It is a devastating loss to our department," said Cpl. John Weglarz. "Just like anywhere when they lose a brother or a sister."

     


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