(AP) A man pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the 2001 strangling of a newspaper sports editor and agreed to testify against a onetime friend.
Under the deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend a 25-year prison sentence for 20-year-old Charles Timothy Erickson in the death of Kent Heitholt, 48.
Heitholt was strangled early on Nov. 1, 2001, as he was leaving work at the Columbia Daily Tribune and paused in the parking lot to feed a stray cat.
Police said Erickson and Ryan Ferguson had been partying at a nightclub a few blocks away and set out to commit a robbery. Erickson was accused of striking Heitholt in the head with a tire tool and Ferguson of strangling him from behind. Strangulation was ruled the cause of death.
Erickson also admitted Thursday to robbery and armed criminal action. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 28.
Ferguson, 20, is charged with first-degree murder and would face life in prison if convicted. He would not face the death penalty because he was 17 at the time, Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane said.
Both men are being held in Boone County Jail.