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Boychuk Pleads Guilty

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RALEIGH — After maintaining his innocence for more than20 months, Bill Boychuk pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering his pregnantwife, avoiding a potential death sentence had a jury convicted him.

The change in his plea came one the day after the prosecution rested itscase. Medical and family testimony cast strong doubts on Boychuk's claimthat his wife, Karen, a 31-year-old lawyer who was four monthspregnant, waskilled by a hit-and-run driver.

Despite his plea, Boychuk told the media as he was being walked out ofthe courtroom that he was innocent and that he loved his parents and wouldmiss them.

The Wake County Superior Court jury hearing testimony in the case was sentto a waiting room at 9:30Thursday morning, just as the defense was scheduled to start its case.Judge Robert Farmer, Boychuk and lawyers met behind closed doors. WhenFarmer reconvened court at noon, Boychuk pleaded guilty to first-degreemurder. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the deathpenalty.

The trial, which lasted eight days, was very emotional for the victim'sfamily and Boychuk's parents. Karen Boychuk's father hugged the district attorney while Bill Boychuk's parents left the courtroom without a word.

The prosecution rested Wednesday, and Farmer denied routine defensemotions to dismiss the case on grounds of insufficient evidence. The judgesaid there was a great deal of evidence against Boychuk, even if it wascircumstantial. Farmer also pointed out no oneelse was at the Cary Parkway bridge the night Karen Boychuk died, and shesustained blows to the head after the fall.

Boychuk told police that a vehicle had hit them as they walked across thespan, sendingher over the edge to the greenway trail 45feet below. Boychuk said the collision knocked him to the ground and hebriefly lost consciousness. Medical testimony, however, showed thatneither Bill or Karen Boychuk suffered injuries consistent with being hitby a car. Accident investigators also said there was no evidence found tosuggest a car had struck the couple.

Boychuk is a former Canadian military employee who is studying for amaster's degree in business administration at the Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill.