By Snejana Farberov | Dailymail.com
An illegal immigrant from Mexico has admitted to strangling a 30-year-old New Jersey woman he worked with, and setting her body and house on fire to cover up the crime.
Juan Jimenez-Olivera, 30, pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder, aggravated arson, desecrating human remains, theft and related offenses in the slaying of Sviatlana Dranko, his co-worker at a pizzeria.
Jimenez-Olivera admitted in court to strangling Dranko in April 2014 in her Hillsborough home, stealing $6,000 and lying to police about his involvement before turning himself in two days later.
Prosecutors say he put a pillow case over Dranko’s face and used a lighter to start the blaze.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, the state has agreed to drop a first-degree aggravated sexual assault charge and recommend a 30-year sentence without the possibility of parole on the murder count.
The defendant is facing an additional five-year sentence, to be served consecutively, for desecrating the victim’s remains, according to NJ.com.
The Hillsborough man is in the country illegally and a judge says he could be deported.
Jimenez-Olivera remains in the Somerset County Jail pending his September 18 sentencing. His $1 million bail has been revoked.
On April 29, 2014, at 8.23am, police and firefighters from multiple departments responded to Dranko’s home in Bloomingdale Drive in response to calls about a fire.
Upon entering the house, first responders found Dranko dead with severe burns to her body inside a second-floor bedroom.
An investigation later determined that Dranko was dead before the fire ignited.
Jimenez-Olivera was arrested two days later after turning himself in and charged in Dranko’s death.
Detectives said the two did not have a romantic relationship and were only workplace acquaintances.
Danko’s sister and her husband were in court Wednesday to hear Jimenz-Olivera’s confession.