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Suspect in Laura Garza murder pleads guilty moments before trial begins

Sex Offender Michael Mele Indicted in Death of Aspiring Dancer Laura Garza
Michael Mele (AP Photo) and Laura Garza (Personal Photo)

(CBS/AP) GOSHEN, N.Y. - Convicted sex offender Michael Mele has admitted to killing aspiring dancer Laura Garza just before the start of his murder trial Monday.

Mele pleaded guilty to manslaughter and evidence tampering in the murder of 25-year-old Laura Garza. 

PICTURES: Missing dancer Laura Garza's suspected killer on trial

The plea came just before the opening statements were scheduled to begin in the start of his trial in Orange County.

Mele confessed he suffocated Garza in his Wallkill apartment. He says she became upset when she learned he had a girlfriend. He says that after he killed her, he stuffed her body in a laundry basket, drove to Pennsylvania and dumped it in a wooded area.

Garza had moved to Brooklyn from Texas just five months before her disappearance. She had dreams of making it as a dancer. Surveillance tapes captured Garza and Mele leaving a Manhattan nightclub together in December 2008. Hours later, they were seen together near his Orange County home 60 miles away. Garza then vanished until her skeletal remains were found in Pennsylvania in 2010.

Complete coverage of the Laura Garza murder trial on Crimesider

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