A D.C. man pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend.

John W. Smith Jr., 46, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder during a hearing in D.C. Superior Court. He had been charged with the killing of Elaine Coleman, who was found dead in her Northeast home in early December.

Smith faces between 16 and 40 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March.

Smith had already served a prison term for killing a man with scissors in 2005. A spokeswoman for Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said he was freed in November 2010.

His sentence had been reduced by Maryland law because of his good behavior behind bars, and his early release was mandatory, she said.

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