4th guilty plea in Betts case
The last of four 19-year-olds charged in the murder investigation of well-known principal Brian Betts pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court Wednesday to lesser charges, bringing prosecution of the case to a close.
Deontra Q. Gray pleaded guilty to robbery and a weapons charge. Sentencing recommendations call for 16 to 27 years, according to court papers, although Gray's lawyer disputed that in court Wednesday, and the exact sentence will be debated at a future hearing.
Gray's trial had been set to begin Jan. 31.
Gray's lawyer, Barbara Graham, had long maintained that the evidence tying him to Betts's slaying was weak. She had said that Gray went to Betts's house the night the principal was killed, in April, but he never went inside the house.
Prosecutors have said he did go into the house, along with three others: Alante Saunders, Sharif Lancaster, and Joel Johnson. But on Wednesday that question was left open. Prosecutors said Gray knew Saunders was going to the house to rob Betts.
"He is owning up to what he did. He didn't know about the gun. He didn't go into the house, but he stole." Graham said.
Saunders has admitted to pulling the trigger during the course of a robbery. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Lancaster and Johnson have yet to be sentenced, according to court records.
After Betts was killed, his stolen credit cards were used. Gray was inside a store when one of the cards was used, Graham said. "His involvement was all after-the-fact," Graham said.
Lancaster's mother, Artura Williams, a relatively minor player in the case, also has pleaded guilty.
| January 26, 2011; 11:20 AM ET
Categories: Dan Morse, From the Courthouse, Homicide, Montgomery
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