Former JVL wrestler pleads guilty to murder

A former Janesville man pleads guilty in the death of his former girlfriend, whom authorities found shot in the head in her southern Wisconsin home.

Phillip Byrd plead guilty Thursday to second-degree intentional homicide in connection with the February death of 43-year-old Cheryl Gilberg. He had told detectives she pointed a gun at him and was shot as they wrestled for the weapon. Investigators have questioned whether such a struggle took place.

Byrd is a 1992 graduate of Janesville's Parker High School. He wrestled at Parker and later at UW-Whitewater.

Prosecutors had initially charged Byrd with first-degree intentional homicide but reduced the count Thursday in exchange for the guilty plea.

Byrd avoids the mandatory life sentence that comes with a conviction for first-degree intentional homicide but now faces up to 60 years in the state prison system, with up to 40 behind bars and up to 20 on extended supervision.