Guilty plea in death of Grant police chief

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - The capital murder trial of 23-year-old Jerid Lee Eldridge in the shooting death of Grant Police Chief Verlon LeMaster has ended with a guilty plea on a reduced charge.

Just before closing arguments Tuesday in a Marshall County courtroom, prosecutors said Eldridge pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of murder in exchange for a life sentence and a chance at parole.

With that plea, he avoided a potential life-without-parole sentence.

Because he was 17 at the time of the murder, he was ineligible for the death penalty.

LeMaster was killed Aug. 15, 2003 when he entered a house looking for a runaway.

Eldridge's co-defendant, 23-year-old Brian Butler, who fired the fatal shot, is serving two life terms without parole.

He was convicted of capital murder in the chief's slaying and attempted
murder of a sheriff's deputy.

Information from: The Huntsville Times,

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