TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Two men charged with first-degree murder and hate crimes in the shooting deaths of three people in Tulsa last year pleaded guilty Monday and were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Alvin Watts and Jake England changed their previous pleas of not guilty in Tulsa County District Court as part of a deal in which prosecutors agreed to spare the death penalty. Members of the victims' families also agreed to the punishment, prosecutors told the court.
England, his voice cracking slightly as he read a prepared statement to the court, admitted going on the rampage with Watts with the aim of killing black people. England also apologized to the city's black community.
"There are no words to express the sorrow and guilt of what I have done," England said. "There is no excuse for my actions. I must live with this in my heart until the end of my days."
Watts said nothing when offered a chance to speak in court, only admitting to helping England carry out the rampage.
As England read his statement, family members of the victims sobbed quietly in the first row. They were later ushered out of the courtroom after the men were sentenced, and did not speak to reporters.
Watts, 34, and England, 21, were charged with first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and five hate crimes in the 2012 shootings of William Allen, Bobby Clark and Dannaer Fields, who were killed as they walked near their Tulsa homes on Easter weekend. Two others were shot and wounded.
All five victims were black. Watts is white and England has said he is Cherokee Indian. Watts and England had faced separate trials that were scheduled for early next year.