- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to 18 to 40 years in the slaying of her father, who authorities said was shot to death as he slept two years ago.

Christy Ann Zelanko, 50, earlier entered a third-degree murder plea in a case the judge called beyond “baffling.”

Bedford County authorities said she shot 68-year-old James Zelanko in the chest five times as he slept in his Broadtop Township home in June 2015. Authorities said the shooting followed a phone conversation in which her mother alleged years of abuse by her husband.

But Judge Travis Livengood said Friday that any abuse occurred years earlier and the defendant said she and her father were fairly close. While police said Zelanko had consumed some alcohol and was using medication, there’s no clear indication that any substances played a role in her actions, and she had almost no criminal record and no known propensity for violence, he said.

“To call this case baffling, to me, is probably an understatement,” Livengood said. “I’m not convinced as to why this happened.”

Zelanko said in court that she had no recollection of the events of that night.

“I take full responsibility because I realize my dad is gone. . It’s just been a horrid nightmare,” she said.

District Attorney Bill Higgins asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years before any possibility of parole.

“I think (the sentence) is appropriate, all things considered,” he said.

Defense attorney Robert Donaldson had asked that his client be freed early to aid the family’s healing, and Zelanko asked to be freed so she could resume her role as a leader in a family frayed by the crime.

“The fact that he’s never going to be here still hasn’t struck me. I don’t know if it ever will,” she said of her father. “I’d just like my family to have some peace. . If I could take their memory, I would in a heartbeat.”

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