Three plead guilty in Tyler motel murder - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Three plead guilty in Tyler motel murder

Lawrence Murphy (Source: Tyler Police) Lawrence Murphy (Source: Tyler Police)
Darian Pikinton (Source: Tyler PD) Darian Pikinton (Source: Tyler PD)
Michael Browning (Source: Tyler police) Michael Browning (Source: Tyler police)
Broderick Smith (Source: Tyler police) Broderick Smith (Source: Tyler police)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Two men pleaded guilty Friday morning for the murder of a man in a Tyler motel in June 2013.

Friday morning, Lawrence Murphy Jr. told the court he agreed to plea guilty in exchange for the state lowering his charge from capital murder to murder. Murphy, who had a prior juvenile conviction, accepted a plea agreement of 20 years in prison. 

Darian Pilkinton, whose charge was also reduced from capital murder to murder, pleaded guilty in exchange for 40 years in prison.

One of Pilkinton's family members began crying and shaking as soon as the judge took up his case. Some of the victim's family members, who were sitting across the courtroom, were also wiping away tears.

Family members of one of the defendants wore matching shirts with the defendant's picture on them. The shirts said, "Faith and Trust. Family."

In court we also learned Pilkinton and the victim, Wesley Scott Lester, had family members who were cousins. Lester's sister made an emotional statement in court telling Pilkinton she hopes he finds The Lord in prison.

More than a dozen people showed up to support the victim, Wesley Scott Lester. Police say Lester was murdered at the American Inn in Tyler in June of 2013 when four men went to the hotel to buy drugs from Lester but then decided to rob him. When Lester fought back, he was shot and killed.

Broderick Smith, the final defendant to accept a plea deal in the motel murder case, began sobbing in courtroom before the hearing.

His charge was reduced from capital murder to murder as a part of the plea agreement. 

When the judge asked Smith if he was ready to accept the plea bargain, Smith burst into tears again. Smith's attorney explained that this is what Smith wants to do. Smith verbally stated he is ready to plea. 

Judge Russell told Smith he doesn't have to proceed. The judge said Smith still has the right to go to trial on the capital murder charge. 

Russell said he's not sure if Smith's tears are sincere, but he hopes they are. He told Smith, because he has a previous felony conviction, this process cannot be a surprise to him. 


Smith's attorney explained Smith was very emotional because his young daughter was present in the courtroom, but he still wanted to proceed.

Broderick Smith pleaded guilty in exchange for 15 years in prison.

A fourth defendant, Michael Browning, pleaded guilty on August 17 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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