Rachel Pittman, 17 (Courtesy: Bowie County Sheriff's Office)
Family photos of Guinevere Doss, Texas Johnson and Amanda Doss
Investigators say the three were murdered in their home before a fire was set to cover up the crime.
TEXARKANA, TX (KSLA) -
A Redwater, TX teenager accused of killing a mother and her two children has taken a plea deal.
Rachel Pittman, now 18, was charged as an adult with capital murder in the May 2011 deaths of 34-year-old Amanda Doss and 11-year-old Guinevere Doss and was facing a separate murder charge for 8-year-old Texas Johnson. Autopsies confirmed all three died from violent injuries prior to the fire, which investigators believe was set to destroy evidence of the murders.
Because she was 16 at the time of the crime, Pittman would not have been eligible for the death penalty if convicted, but she did face life in prison.
Trial was set to begin next week in Rusk County, but on Friday in Bowie County District Court, Pittman withdrew her insanity defense and plead guilty to two counts of the lesser charge of first degree murder.
Bowie County District Judge Leon Peseck, Jr. sentenced Pittman to two life sentences, with the possibility for parole after 30 years. She will not be able to appeal her sentence. Her attorney, Clifton "Scrappy" Holmes, says the deal gives her more privileges in prison than she would have had if she had gone to trial and been convicted on the capital murder charge. "This young lady entered a plea that, under the circumstances, we feel was the proper conclusion," Holmes says.
Pittman was tearful while on the stand answering questions before the sentencing, explaining that she did not agree at first to the deal, but changed her mind after seeing photos of the victims. Pittman also hung her head down and cried as Amanda Doss' father tearfully spoke, saying that Amanda had trusted her, recounting how they had provided refuge for the teenager when she ran away from home and even invited her to Thanksgiving dinner.
In a statement released by the Bowie County District Attorney's Office, District Attorney Jerry Rochelle said, "The Bowie County District Attorney's Office is relieved that this will conclude this case and spare the victim's family the burden of a jury trial. The district attorney's office respects the family's decision to allow the defendant to plea to a life sentence and avoid both a trial as well as any possibility of years of appellate battle. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families. We hope this brings them closure and some sense of justice."
Investigators and prosecutors have never released any details on what may have been the motive for the killings.
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