The second day of trial for James Simons — one of the defendants charged with murder in the death of a man whose body was dumped on the side of Interstate 64 — ended early after he pleaded guilty to reduced charges.
Simons, 37, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
He was immediately sentenced in accordance to the plea agreement to a total of 25 years in prison. He will have to serve 85 percent of that sentence — or 17 years — before being eligible for parole.
Simons, Joshua Hammond, 33, and David Bruce II, 46, allegedly planned to rob 30-year-old Charles Monroe after buying prescription drugs from him May 5, 2012 in the Walmart parking lot on Leonardwood Drive.
They allegedly beat
and strangled Monroe to death. His body was found May 6, 2012 dumped on the side of Interstate 64.
Bruce pleaded guilty in June to the amended charges of criminal facilitation to murder, second-degree robbery, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
As a part of both Simons’ and Bruce’s plea agreements, they will testify against Hammond in trial, which is set for May.
Following Tuesday’s sentencing, one of Monroe’s brothers had to be led from the courtroom by family members as he yelled obscenities at Simons.
“Have fun, have fun, bastard,” the man yelled. “See you in 17 years.”
“It’s not what we really wanted,” said Monroe’s sister, Tammy Cook, about the guilty plea.
Cook said she and the rest of Monroe’s siblings took a vote before giving their blessing for Simons’ plea agreement.
She said they are ultimately happy two of her brother’s alleged killers are off the street. They were unhappy with the jury selection and felt moving forward in the trial was too risky.
“We are just waiting for May now,” Cook said of Hammond’s trial.