“Bravo!” Murdering Pianist Sentenced

Steven Zirko convicted of murder last month

Amid cries of "bravo!" from the victims' families, a Cook County judge has sentenced a former cruise ship pianist to life in prison for the murders of his former girlfriend and her mother at a suburban Chicago home.

Steven Zirko stared at the victims' relatives Tuesday as he maintained his innocence before being sentenced. He had faced the death penalty.

Zirko was convicted last month of killing 38-year-old Mary Lacey and her mother, 60-year-old Margaret Ballog.

The women were found dead in Lacey's Glenview home on Dec. 13, 2004. Lacey had been shot and stabbed more than 40 times, and her mother was shot several times.

Prosecutors alleged the 47-year-old Zirko blamed Lacey for his problems and was looking to cash in on insurance policies on the women.  He had initially tried to recruit a hit man at his anger-management class, but then carried it out himself, prosecutors said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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