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Air Force Sergeant Receives Three Death Sentences for Killing Wife, Kids

April 20, 1996

SHALIMAR, Fla. (AP) _ An Air Force sergeant was sentenced Friday to die in the electric chair for hacking his wife and two children to death with a machete.

Tech Sgt. Edward Zakrzewski pleaded guilty last month to murdering his Korean-born wife, Sylvia, 34, his son, Edward Jr., 7, known as ``Kim,″ and 5-year-old daughter, Anna.

Judge G. Robert Barron followed jury recommendations for death sentences in the slayings of the wife and son, and also sentenced Zakrzewski to death for his daughter’s murder, overriding a jury recommendation for life in prison.

``Prior to Anna’s death, she not only experienced the horror of knowing that she was about to be murdered by her own father, but she also experienced the absolute horror of knowing that her brother had been murdered and that she was next,″ Barron said.

All death sentences are automatically appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

The bloody, mutilated bodies were found stacked in a bathtub at the family’s home in the Florida Panhandle town of Mary Esther a few days after the June 9, 1994, slayings.

Zakrzewski, 31, a maintenance and supply sergeant at Eglin Air Force Base, fled to Hawaii. He surrendered to police nearly four months later, a day after his photograph was shown on the ``Unsolved Mysteries″ television program.

Zakrzewski, originally of Kalamazoo, Mich., said nothing during the sentencing but murmured ``You ought to write a book″ or `He ought to write a book,″ to prosecutor Bobby Elmore, possibly referring to the judge.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, defense lawyer Elton Killam argued Zakrzewski’s life should be spared because he was under great emotional and mental distress caused by his wife’s infidelity, her gambling, and threats to divorce him and take the children to Korea.

Barron said the premeditated nature of the murders, their cruelty and the fact Zakrzewski killed more than once outweighed any factors that might have mitigated the death penalty.

The judge cited a neighbor’s testimony that Zakrzewski twice had said he would kill his family if his wife tried to divorce him and take the children away.

On the morning of the slayings, Zakrzewski’s son called him at work to tell him his mother was going to file divorce papers that day, Barron said. During his lunch break, Zakrzewski bought a machete and hid it in the bathroom.

That night, he bludgeoned his wife with a crow bar, choked her with a rope in a bedroom and then called his son to brush his teeth in the bathroom. That’s where the boy was hacked several times and nearly decapitated, Barron said.

Then Zakrzewski called Anna to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and killed her. Finally, he took his wife to the bathroom and butchered her with the machete, the judge said.

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