DULUTH -- The man accused of murdering his wife, a former Bemidji woman, recently pled guilty to fatally stabbing her during a heated argument last year.
As part of that plea reached Monday, Jan. 27, Ryan Richard Jazdzewski, 40, admitted to killing 41-year-old Nicole “Nikki” Ann Jazdzewski on June 2 at their home. He pleaded to the charge of second-degree murder. Jazdzewski’s sentencing is scheduled for March 3.
"I stabbed her," the defendant testified, sobbing and shaking at the counsel table. "I stabbed her."
Nicole Jazdzewski was a 1995 Bemidji High School graduate who also briefly studied at Bemidji State. At the time of her death, she still had family in the Bemidji area, who held a funeral for her at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Bemidji.
In the wake of her death, those close to her established a GoFundMe account to help cover the expenses of the funeral as well as to cover medical expenses incurred before her death. The initiative originally asked for $5,000. Instead, it received an outpouring of support, bringing in more than $40,000 from nearly 600 donors.
Nicole Jazdzewski had three children, one of whom came into the room while Ryan Jazdzewski was inflicting the lethal blows. That was one of the aggravating factors that could result in a longer-than expected sentence for Ryan Jazdzewski
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Ryan Jazdzewski could be sentenced to more than 36 years. In addition to the presence of the couple’s children in the home at the time of the incident, the prosecutor noted the level of cruelty displayed in the offense.
"Would you agree that you inflicted more stab wounds than necessary to end her life?" prosecutor Kristen Swanson asked.
"Yes," Jazdzewski replied.
Law enforcement responded to the couples home, 818 Chester Park Drive, and found one of the daughters covered in blood and asking for help.
Officers reportedly entered the home and found Nicole Jazdzewski lying on her back in the kitchen, inflicted with what appeared to be stab wounds on her torso. The complaint said there was a “large amount of blood” throughout the kitchen.
Ryan Jazdzewski later told officials he spent much of the day drinking beer and spending time with the children. He and Nicole Jazdzewski reportedly had been ignoring each other since she had told him she wanted a divorce.
An argument between the two began, and Nicole Jazdzewski grabbed a kitchen knife in self defense, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case. Ryan Jazdzewski took the knife from his wife and stabbed her 10 to 12 times, he originally told the authorities.
The complaint said Ryan Jazdzewski stopped when his daughter said “Don’t kill mom.” Jazdzewski then called his mother and said “Mom, I think I killed my wife,” the complaint said.
Speaking on behalf of the family, the victim’s father, Kenneth Hovland, said they were “disappointed” with the resolution of the court proceedings, such as the state’s decision not to convene a grand jury to consider a first-degree murder indictment, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
However, the judge, Theresa Neo, told the family she “breathed a sigh of relief” when she heard there was a plea deal in place.
"From the very beginning of this case, my heart has gone out to you and to the children in particular, because the loss they have suffered is immeasurable,” the judge said, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
The judge then added that having the process come to an end will allow them to begin the healing process.
"The fact that they're not going to have to continue down this path again, not going to have to testify, not going to have to walk through that nightmare again — that benefits them," the judge said.
The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.