FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A man pleaded guilty Thursday in the middle of his trial to lesser charges in the 1974 slayings of three people in northern West Virginia.
Media outlets report 60-year-old Eddie Jack Washington entered the plea to three counts of conspiracy to commit a felony on the fourth day of his trial in Marion County Circuit Court. Circuit Judge Michael Aloi then sentenced Washington to one to five years on each count.
Two of the prison terms will run consecutively and the third will running concurrently. Washington, who was arrested in February, will get credit for time already served.
Washington was arrested in Tampa, Fla., where he'd been living for more than a decade. He originally was charged with three first-degree murder counts and a conspiracy count.
A co-defendant, Phillip Reese Bush, also awaits trial. Bush is serving life sentences at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex for two first-degree murder convictions in Ohio County.
The pair were accused in the deaths of 20-year-old Lester Phillips, 19-year-old Wanda Jane Phillips and 27-year-old Billy Ray Cobb at Fairmont's Windmill Park.
Their bodies of the Fairmont residents were found next to each other on Aug. 2, 1974, along the far edge of the park behind tennis courts and a soccer field. All three had been shot in the head and a coroner determined they had been dead for up to eight hours.
Washington's defense attorney, Neal Jay Hamilton, said during opening arguments that evidence had been lost over the years, including some that was never logged in in 1974.
But Marion County Prosecutor Patrick Wilson said testimony from a witness earlier this year placed Washington at the scene.