CHARLESTON, W.Va. --Charles March, the former shoe salesman accused of killing and cutting up his co-worker, pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder.
But March, 60, said he didn't mean to kill Kathy Goble, 62.
March was arrested after Goble's body was dug up near his Chesapeake mobile home in April. That grisly discovery happened at the two-year anniversary of her disappearance. The two worked together at Kelley's Men's Shop.
After a few failed attempts, March finally pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon before Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom. The judge had denied two previous attempts by March to enter a plea, including earlier in the day.
March said, "There was nothing done intentionally. I killed her, but I did not do it on purpose. I just want this done and over today."
One of March's court-appointed defense attorneys, Richard Holicker, told the judge repeatedly that March was pleading guilty against his advice. On Wednesday morning, that plea was postponed for five hours because Holicker insisted March was too confused to do it.
Bloom placed March in a holding cell at the courthouse and asked him to consider his options until 3 p.m. The judge also asked psychiatrist Ralph Smith to re-evaluate March to determine competency.
Smith said he talked with March and determined he was stable, capable of making a plea and wanted to do it.
At one point in the hearing, it appeared March was wavering in his resolve again when the judge detailed how a jury might consider the intent issue and return a verdict with a lesser penalty than life imprisonment.
Then, after conferring with his lawyers again, March indicated he wanted to plead guilty.
"I just want to say one thing," March told the judge. "She wasn't..."
Holicker quickly interrupted, hit the microphone and March never finished that sentence.
March's video confession to police was not played in the courtroom, but Detective Sean Snuffer of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department gave some details of that conversation.
Snuffer said March told him he had tied Goble up on his bed with neckties and then, while kneeling on her chest, strangled her with his hands. He said he used enough force that he heard her bones pop.