SEATTLE — A Washington state man accused of drowning his 3-year-old stepdaughter so he could collect on a $200,000 life insurance policy has been convicted of second-degree murder.
A jury on Wednesday found 40-year-old Joel Zellmer of Kent guilty in the death of Ashley McLellan.
The girl was pulled unconscious from the family swimming pool in December 2003 and died two days later. Zellmer says he was asleep when his stepdaughter wandered into the backyard and into the pool while her mother was at work.
Prosecutors alleged Zellmer drowned Ashley so he could collect on an insurance policy taken out three months earlier.
At trial, they said he preyed on single mothers he dated so he could target their children for potential insurance payoffs. Jurors were told about other children suffering broken bones, burns and a near-drowning.
Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com