Lawyer: Guilty plea coming in US church shooting

Posted on 06 Feb 2009 at 1:51pm
By By Duncan Mansfield Associated Press

Adkisson would spend life in prison with no possibility of parole under plea agreement

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire in a church will plead guilty to killing two people and wounding six others, his attorney said Wednesday.

Jim D. Adkisson, 58, will enter guilty pleas to all counts Monday, Feb. 9 in exchange for a sentence of life without possibility of parole, Public Defender Mark Stephens said. Adkisson faces two counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted first-degree murder in the July 27, 2008, shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville.

Each murder charge carried a possible life sentence and each attempted-murder count up to 25 years in prison.

Adkisson is accused of pulling a sawed-off shotgun from a guitar case and firing three deadly blasts into an audience watching a Sunday morning children’s performance of the musical "Annie." Members of the audience of about 200 wrestled him to the ground.

Police say Adkisson targeted the church because of its liberal open-door policies, including acceptance of gays, and fully expected to keep shooting until responding officers killed him.

Adkisson was scheduled to stand trial on March 16. Stephens indicated last year an insanity defense was planned. The public defender would not say Wednesday, Feb. 4 what changed Adkisson’s mind.

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