Ex-Con Takes Plea Deal In Murder of Florida Priest

An ex-convict accused of killing a Florida priest who had tried to help him for months said he has reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty and avoid the death penalty. Steven Murray faces charges including murder in the April 2016 shooting death of the Rev. Rene Robert, a senior priest for the Diocese of St. Augustine. Murray told The Associated Press that he plans to plead guilty at an Oct. 18 hearing in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Murray, who was 28 at the time of Robert’s death, was a repeat offender whom Robert had been trying to help for months. Police said Murray asked the 71-year-old priest for a ride in Jacksonville, Florida, and then kidnapped him and killed him in Georgia. Murray was arrested in Aiken, South Carolina, after a multistate manhunt, and he led police to Robert’s body in the woods near Waynesboro, Georgia. The motive for the killing isn’t entirely clear.
Murray expressed both sorrow and defiance in public statements as he was taken from the courthouse after hearings last year. In postcards and calls to AP from jail, he has repeatedly said he cries over Robert’s death and that he is sorry.

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