A Texas man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend — and he allegedly remains the primary suspect in the killing of the teen’s mother and her younger sister, according to police.
PEOPLE confirms that Jesse Dobbs, 21, pleaded guilty Monday to murdering Kirsten Fritch in November 2016. Before Fritch’s body was located, police found the bodies of her mother, Cynthia Morris, and her 13-year-old sister, Breanna Pavilicek, fatally shot in the family’s Baystown home.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Dobbs’ ex-wife tipped police off to him after he allegedly called her asking to see his children one final time. Instead, she called police, who located Dobbs at a bar in Texas City, more than 40 miles from Baystown.
At the the time, police had issued an AMBER alert for Fritch, and during police questioning, Dobbs allegedly confessed to killing her, KRPC reports, telling police, “Kirsten is dead. I killed her. Not the real Kirsten, but the fake Kirsten.”
Two days later, police discovered Fritch’s body 200 feet from the bar in which Dobbs was located. She had been stabbed nearly 60 times.
No one has been charged in the deaths of Morris and Pavilicek.
While Dobbs has pleaded guilty, his attorney will try to argue during the punishment phase of his trial that he was overtaken by a “sudden passion,” which could reduce his sentence, Galveston County Assistant District Attorney Bill Reed tells PEOPLE.
Speaking with the Chronicle, Dobbs attorney, Jyll Rekoff, said, “The case we’re going to present to the jury is that Mr. Dobbs had nothing to do with the Baytown murders [of Morris and Pavilicek], that Kirsten got into an argument with her mom, something happened, both those murders occurred.”
“However, when he left with her, they put it out on the news like he was the culprit and she was going to lie and say he did it. And that’s enough to push somebody over the edge and it just got wrong from there,” she continued.
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However, police still suspect Dobbs in the pair’s slayings.
“He’s our primary suspect,” Lt. Steve Dorris of the Baytown police said after Dobbs’ hearing on Tuesday, the Chronicle reports. “We do believe that he’s the one who committed those murders.”
After his guilty plea in Fritch’s death, Dobbs potentially faces 5 to 99 years or life in prison, but if the jury agrees with his “sudden passion” defense, his sentence could be capped at 20 years, Reed tells PEOPLE.
The hearing to decide his punishment is scheduled for Sept. 24, online records show. Rekoff could not be reached for comment Wednesday.