A Morinville man entered a surprise plea Thursday, pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his common-law wife.
With a trial scheduled to begin on Monday, James Gary Urbaniak pleaded guilty before the jury selection process even began.
Urbaniak has been in custody since May 5, 2009, several days after his common-law wife Jessica Ryan Martel was found dead in their Morinville home.
The couple's three young children were also in the home when the RCMP was called on April 29, 2009. Martel was found dead inside the home.
Urbaniak is set to be sentenced later this year, but the mandatory minimum penalty for second-degree murder is life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.