The Associated Press reports that a Mississippi man has pleaded guilty to five different slayings. The man, 29-year-old Derrick Dearman of Lucedale, Mississippi, signed his intent to plead guilty to killing five people in Alabama with an ax and a rifle. The murders occurred two years ago.
The judge has accepted the pleas, but under state law a trial must still be carried out since it involves a capital charge that carries a possible death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Dearman’s estranged girlfriend was staying at the home where he killed the five victims, and he has said that he was high on meth when the attacks were carried out. He is acting as his own lawyer in the case.
The victims included Robert Lee Brown, 26, Chelsea Marie Reed, 22, Justin Kaleb Reed, 23, Joseph Adam Turner, 26, and Shannon Melissa Randall, 35. Chelsea Reed was five months pregnant when she was murdered, and was married to Justin. Turner and Randall were also a married couple. Dearman claimed the drugs made him think things were there that weren’t.
The estranged girlfriend, Laneta Lester, was seeking refuge from Dearman’s abuse. Turner was her brother.
Dearman had initially been charged with abducting Lester and a child from the home, but those charges were dropped when it became apparent he may plead guilty to more serious charges.
His former attorney filed a motion showing he had undergone an examination that determined he was competent to plead guilty but incompetent to stand trial because he was suicidal with mental illnesses.
*Photo credit the AP