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February 26, 2013

Army private pleads guilty in murder case

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Army private on trial for the starvation death of a 10-year-old boy at an Oklahoma base pleaded guilty Monday to a first-degree murder charge to avoid a possible death sentence.

Pvt. Connell C. Williams, 33, entered the guilty plea at the U.S. Courthouse in Lawton as federal prosecutors were preparing to present more evidence to a 12-member jury that began hearing testimony Thursday, according to federal court officials.

Williams was indicted for first-degree murder by a federal grand jury in the May 5, 2011, death of Marcus Holloway, the son of Williams’ girlfriend, at Fort Sill in southwestern Oklahoma. Federal prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.

In a written statement to the jury, U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said Williams’ plea in the “heart-rending” case had brought the jury’s service “to a premature end.”

“Having starved a 10-year old boy to a slow death over a period of months in 2011, Connell Williams is no longer at risk for the death penalty,” Friot’s statement says. “As a result of the agreement between the government and the defendant, this trial has ended ...”

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