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Elizabeth Bockholt

Elizabeth Bockholt

SIOUX CITY -- A man charged with killing a woman in a Sioux City hotel room before setting it on fire has notified the judge presiding over his case that he'd like to plead guilty and accept a lifetime prison sentence.

In a brief, six-sentence, hand-written letter, Jordan Henry told District Judge Steven Andreasen he wanted to speed up his case to avoid further publicity.

"I do not like all the publicity for me and my family's sake. ... I just want to speed the process up and put this all in the past. I would like to be sentenced as soon as possible," Henry wrote to Andreasen in the letter dated March 13 and sent from the Woodbury County Jail. It was filed Monday in Woodbury County District Court.

Andreasen has scheduled a status hearing for April 12, and ordered public defender Billy Oyadare to consult with Henry prior to the hearing.

"Although defendant has the right and ability to do so (plead guilty), the court has an obligation to insure that any such guilty pleas that are entered are done so knowingly and voluntarily and that the defendant is competent to do so," Andreasen wrote in an order filed Tuesday. "Defendant also has the right to assistance of counsel ..."

Oyadare did not return a message seeking comment. First assistant Woodbury County Attorney Mark Campbell, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

Henry, 29, of Sioux City, pleaded not guilty in February to first-degree murder and first-degree arson. He is accused of strangling Elizabeth Bockholt in a Sioux City hotel room on Jan. 24 and then setting fire to the room. His trial remains scheduled for July 9.

Firefighters and police found Bockholt's body after responding to the fire at the Wingate by Wyndham, 4716 Southern Hills Drive. According to court documents, Bockholt, 40, of Hinton, Iowa, and Henry had a romantic relationship prior to Henry being sentenced to prison in 2017, and she voluntarily met him at the hotel the night she died. Henry was identified on surveillance video and by witnesses who saw him leaving the scene just after the fire.

Henry had been sentenced to five years in prison after violating the terms of his probation from a 2016 theft conviction. After serving nearly 20 months of the sentence, he was released on parole on Jan. 16, eight days before Bockholt's death.

If Henry pleads guilty to first-degree murder, he would receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. First-degree arson carries a 25-year prison sentence.

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