CLEVELAND-- The man convicted of killing a Strongsville teacher admitted to shooting her during an interrogation by Strongsville police but claimed his memory of the crime was a blur.
A judge sentenced Jeffrey Scullin, 21, to life in prison on Monday for the October 2017 murder of Melinda Pleskovic, 49. Scullin will be eligible for parole after 33 years.
Scullin changed his plea to no contest to seven charges including aggravated murder after a judge ruled his videotaped confession would be admissible at trial.
"Everything after that first shot's like, it's almost like a dream, I guess," Scullin told Strongsville Police Detective Ron Stolz on November 1, 2017, more than a week after the murder.
Scullin had previously denied harming Pleskovic, but in his final interrogation he claimed she confronted him about his knife and gun found in their home. Scullin said Pleskovic had the weapons out in the home's kitchen, where the murder occurred, and that they argued about a paternity test of the baby Scullin shared with Pleskovic's daughter, Anna.
"I told her don't worry, that it's not loaded, everything is safe downstairs. It's only going to be here for a little bit, and then she's like, started screaming 'you're not the father, you're not the father.'"
Scullin told Det. Stolz that Melinda picked up the gun, and he tried to grab it away.
"When I was pulling it away from her, it kind of just went off, then after that, that's where it's like, I don't really exactly understand what happened," he said. "Everything's all, like, blurry, and I don't know, just kind of, just like, I lost control, I think."
Scullin shot the 6th grade teacher three times and stabbed her at least 35 times. In the interrogation, he said he was confused about what happened that day and could not recall additional details of the murder, including using the knife.
When Det. Stolz asked if Pleskovic was still alive after Scullin shot her and why he began using the knife, Scullin said "I don't know; I don't understand that part. I've never been a violent person or anything like that. I've never done anything to anybody."
Scullin did not explain why he staged burglaries at the Pleskovic home in the weeks before the murder. When Stolz asked if Scullin checked to see if Pleskovic was alive before he left the crime scene, Scullin said he did not think he had.
A judge previously denied a motion by Scullin's attorney seeking to suppress evidence including the murder weapons and confession, which the attorney argued was coerced. The attorney said Scullin planned to appeal.