LITTLE ROCK — The second man charged in the shooting deaths of five people in Pearcy in November 2009 has plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a 50-year-sentence.
Jeremy Pickney on Thursday afternoon entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit aggravated residential burglary and theft by receiving over $2,500. The two pleas brought prison terms of 30 years and 20 years. They will be served consecutively.
Prosecuting Attorney Steve Oliver said in a statement that the decision to seek a plea deal was necessary because the most substantial evidence against Pickney - three cell phone videos, including one where he is seen discussing a robbery - were ruled inadmissible.
"The exclusion of this evidence ended the State's ability to proceed to trial against Jeremy Pickney with any probability of obtaining convictions for the offenses of Capital Murder and Aggravated Residential Burglary," Oliver wrote.
The case also suffered from a lack of physical evidence linking Pickney to the crime scene and uncooperative witnesses, Oliver wrote.
Pickney's trial was to begin next week.
Codefendant Samuel Conway was found guilty in June and sentenced to five life terms.
The videos were also ruled inadmissible in Conway's trial, though Oliver noted there was other evidence in that case. Notably, prosecutors presented multiple witnesses who said Conway admitted the killings.
Conway and Pickney were arrested in the Nov. 11, 2009 slayings of Jeremy Gentry, 24, as well as Gentry's parents, girlfriend and grandfather. Four of the bodies were found in a burning trailer on Airport Road while the fifth was found in another residence on the property.
Authorities said the killings occurred as Conway and Pickney sought revenge and to rob Gentry.
A third suspect, Marvin Stringer, was killed in a shootout with police.
Family members of the victims and investigating authorities signed off on the plea deal, Oliver wrote.