Life sentence for murderer of North Adams native Shayley Estes

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PHOENIX — The man who murdered a former North Adams native in her Phoenix apartment was sentenced on Friday to life in prison.

Igor Zubko, 27, admitted to killing Shayley Estes, his ex-girlfriend, in July 2015. She was 22 at the time.

Zubko, a Russian national, requested a plea deal for a life sentence after prosecutors indicated they would pursue the death penalty, according to The Republican newspaper in Arizona.

"It went the way we expected," said Shannon Estes, Shayley's mother. Shannon and many members of Shayley's family were in the curt room on Friday to hear the verdict.

Shannon Estes said once Zubko reached a plea deal with the prosecution, she and other members of the family agreed to the plea.

"It's life and he's never going to get out," she said. Shannon Estes said that after discussing the plea deal with the prosecution, the family understood that there would be another trial, as late as two years down the line.

"And we knew there would be at least one appeal, if he was convicted," she said. "And that whole process would take years and years. And we'd have to be back in court at the end of it. I just wanted to make sure he never got out."

The family was on the way to a memorial service for her daughter when Shannon was contacted by The Eagle on Saturday.

Shannon Estes said that while her family will return to the Berkshires soon, "I'll be staying here for now. I have no plans to move. Maybe later, but not now."

Estes was a 2011 Drury High School graduate. Her family had relocated to Arizona in 2009, but she quickly found she was ahead of her classmates at Marcos de Niza High School and requested a return to her native Berkshires.

She stayed with a relative while she finished her junior and senior years.

Estes had signed up for classes at Mesa Community College and had previously studied chemistry at Arizona State University.

Estes and Zubko seemed to have had a volatile relationship — Estes had served her ex-boyfriend with an order of protection on July 14, 2015.

Court records said Zubko sent Estes' roommate a threatening text after the order was served: "She will be brutally murdered from Russia with love."

Police believe Zubko used a key he never returned to enter the home on July 24, 2015, according to The Republican. He had purchased the gun earlier that day through a private internet sale.

After an argument between Zubko and Estes when she returned home, neighbors heard a gunshot and found her body in the home.

Zubko was apprehended at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on July 24, 2015. He had purchased a one-way ticket to San Francisco, according to authorities.

Court records said that he told police the shooting was an accident.

Staff writers Derek Gentile, Bob Dunn and Eoin Higgins contributed to this report.


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