BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Just before opening statements were to begin in the trial for the murder of a St. Marys middle-school student in May 2000, James Miley pleaded guilty to all charges.
James Miley was accused of killing Ashley Nichole Neeves five years ago. The 14-year-old girl's body was found near the St. Marys waterfront. Investigators said her throat had been slit and her face mutilated.
Miley was charged with murder, rape, aggravated battery, and kidnapping with bodily injury. Jury selection began last week at the Glynn County Courthouse.
Prosecutors were planning to request the death penalty if Miley was convicted. After the plea Monday morning, Miley was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 20 years.
Prosecutor George Turner said he had a strong death penalty case, but said accepting the plea was in the best interest of all parties.
"The problems with trials is the uncertainly that you have," Turner told Channel 4's Dan Leveton. "Also, if you got a death penalty, the appeals go on for years, and the family wanted some closure."
Neeve's family agreed that the plea agreement was best.
"It's been a horrible five years," said the victim's father, Pete Parrish. "We were hoping that his conscious would finally come clean, and it dead. And with the support of my family and the evidence that the state had, we knew that he would get what he deserved."
Parrish said his daughter was so compassionate, they didn't think she wouldn't want him to die.
Miley, who was 18 and an 11th-grader at Camden High School at the time of the slaying, knew Neeves. Investigators believe he killed her during a struggle, then hid her body in some bushes.
Deputies said Miley tried to escape a year after his arrest, but was quickly caught.
The trial was delayed several times as attorneys argued over evidence. Defense lawyers successfully argued that evidence seized from Miley's home, which allegedly had Neeves' blood on it, was beyond the scope of a search warrant. An appellate court ordered that evidence not be allowed at trial.
- November 1, 2005: Trial In 2000 Murder Of St. Marys Teen Begins
- October 27, 2005: Jury Selection Next Week For Trial In 2000 St. Marys Slaying
- May 11, 2005: Prosecution Of 2000 St. Marys Murder Awaits Appeal Of Evidence
- September 30, 2004: Camden Murder Case Moving To Brunswick Courthouse
WJXT's Camden County newsgathering partner, K-BAY 106, contributed to this report.
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