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Man sentenced to life in prison for double homicide

Posted at 4:52 PM, May 20, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — Richard Sotka was sentenced Monday to two life sentences for the murders of two women. He will not be eligible for release from custody. He was convicted in March for the crime which happened in Jan. 2023.

  • A jury found Richard Sotka guilty of two counts of first degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Rhonda Cegelski and her best friend Paula O’Connor.
  • Cegelski was Sotka’s girlfriend.
  • Police found the victims’ bodies in a duplex in Green Bay last year with brutal stab wounds.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

A judge has sentenced Richard Sotka to two life sentences for killing two women. I'm Pari Apostolakos at the Brown County Courthouse where Sotka also heard on Monday he will not be eligible for release.

In March , a jury found Sotka guilty of two counts of first degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Rhonda Cegelski and her best friend Paula O'Connor.

Cegelski was Sotka's girlfriend at the time of her death.

Cegelski's mother, Beverly Wahlen said in court the death of her daughter has changed many lives forever.

"I think Rich left a legacy of destruction and in the end he has destroyed himself," Wahlen, the first of the victims' family members to address the courtroom, said.

Police say they found the victims' bodies in a duplex in Green Bay last year. They'd been brutally stabbed.

During Monday's sentencing hearing, Judge Beau Liegeois called Sotka's crimes "Shocking to the conscience," and said Sotka displayed "Classic domestic abuser behavior."

"The impact on the victims' family, you basically destroyed these two families by taking these two individuals lives," Judge Liegeois said. "This is somebody who was a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mother and a grandmother even who you basically just wiped off the face of the earth because you felt a little bit insulted."

When Sotka addressed the court he said he was defending himself.

"I didn't pick the fight, I ended it," Sotka said. "I did what I felt I had to do. Even if no one else believes me, if I had hesitated, it could have cost me my life."

Paula O'Connor's ex-husband, Shawn O'Connor, addressed Sotka directly in the courtroom.

"You robbed us," he said. "Three beautiful and innocent grandchildren will never have the privilege of knowing their grandmother … The justice system will sentence you to multiple life sentences … You will have a lot of time to think about what you have done… We curse you, we wish nothing but horrific fortune for you."

Sotka said while addressing the court he plans to appeal his sentence.

Sotka is also ordered to pay more than $16,000 in restitution. He has 477 days credited toward his life sentences. In Green Bay Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.