Walter Dron Poythress, scheduled for next week's criminal trial term on charges of killing David Norred, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday afternoon in the court in Dadeville and was in the process of being processed out of Randolph County Jail late Wednesday, Randolph County Sheriff David Cofield said.
Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge Ray Martin was in Dadeville, and Cofield transported Poythress to the court for the plea, he said.
The judge sentenced him to 20 years, but it was a split sentence, which meant he had already spent enough time awaiting trial that he could be released. Cofield said he has spent six years and eight months in jail. He will serve five years probation, and the probation office was in the process of setting up his five-year probation.
By nightfall he will likely be out of jail clothes and walking the streets.
Fifth Judicial District Attorney E. Paul Jones was present, and Assistant District Attorney Amy Newsome told the judge what she expected the evidence to be in the upcoming capital murder trial. Representing Poythress were Warren Freeman and Kesa Johnston Dunn, who had unsuccessfully tried to get him released on bond.
Restitution and other fines or court costs were ordered, but Newsome could not be reached late Wednesday for those details.
In 2007 grand jurors indicted Poythress, now 35, on capital murder in a cold case involving the March 4, 1999, death of Norred at his family's business, Ben's Pawn Shop on U.S. Highway 431, south of Roanoke.
Roanoke investigator James Bailey had worked on the case when he was with the Randolph County Sheriff's Department and brought it with him when moved to the Roanoke Police Department. He was present in Wednesday's hearing. The victim's mother and brother were also at the hearing.