Man indicted on 1st-degree murder for death of woman found at Hastings hotel

A Minnesota man is now facing first-degree murder charges in connection to the death of a woman who was found at a Hastings hotel in 2021.

Prosecutors had already charged 34-year-old Kyle Steven Williams with second-degree murder for the death of 36-year-old Kelly Jo Marie Kocurek.

RELATED: Red Wing man charged with 2nd-degree murder in May hotel incident

Monday, the Dakota County Attorney’s Office announced that a grand jury indicted Williams on charges of premeditated first-degree murder, first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse and with a past pattern of abuse, and second-degree intentional murder.

Williams made his first court appearance on the indictment Monday and had his current bail — $2 million with conditions — remain in effect.

Court documents state that Hastings police were called to a hotel on May 18, 2021, on a need for medical attention. When they got there, Williams ran out front and screamed for officers to hurry to the room where he and Kocurek were staying.

Inside the room, officers found Kocurek laying on the floor, unresponsive, with several cords cut next to her. Officers also noted blood, as well as bruises and swelling, on her face and marks around her neck.

She was taken to a hospital and was in a coma for five days before she died on May 23.

Court documents state that Williams claimed Kocurek had strangled herself. Others told police that Williams and Kocurek were in a romantic relationship, and hotel staff said it sounded like people were wrestling in a room about 10 minutes before Williams rushed to the front desk.

When talking to police, authorities say Williams changed his story several times but maintained that Kocurek strangled herself. However, someone close to Kocurek told officers that Kocurek had a pre-existing injury that limited her ability to use one of her hands and even required her to have help putting on clothes and brushing her teeth.

A medical examiner determined Kocurek’s injuries were inconsistent with a self-inflicted injury, noting she suffered a horizontal abrasion on her neck, a fracture on the hyoid bone, a deep soft tissue hemorrhage and petechial hemorrhage in both eyes, numerous brain injuries associated with a physical assault, plus the bruises on her face, head and ear, as well as bilateral fractures of her jaw. Her cause of death was ruled as asphyxia due to ligature strangulation.

Williams’ next court hearing is scheduled for April 4.

A second-degree murder conviction carries up to 40 years in jail while a first-degree murder conviction results in life in prison.