The man who one week ago refused to plead guilty to two shotgun murders changed his mind Friday, accepting a likely mandatory life prison sentence.
Cheyenne Brown, charged with two counts of aggravated murder for the shotgun killings of an elderly couple, pleaded guilty to both counts as part of a plea agreement.
Police and sheriff’s deputies arrested Brown and his 19-year-old friend, K.C. Therriault, after finding Gertrude and Richard Mattausch murdered in their Waverly home on Jan. 23.
Prosecutors said the two men knew the couple and decided to rob and kill them, then drive off in Richard Mattausch’s truck.
Brown had worked for the couple, then was arrested after Richard Mattausch reported that Brown had stolen his truck.
Brown, 20, initially said last week he would enter guilty pleas to avoid facing a possible death sentence if convicted at a trial.
In front of victims’ family members expecting that plea, he changed his mind, telling a Spokane County judge he’d been misled by his defense attorneys.
On Friday, he changed his mind again and pleaded guilty.
Why Brown reversed himself isn’t clear, said Assistant Public Defender Doug Boe.
Boe said he hesitated to judge the reasons for Brown’s guilty plea.
“I’m just glad he changed his mind. We’ve spoken with him a number of times, and I think he made a reasonable decision.”
Brown’s sentencing won’t take place until Aug. 29. After he refused last week’s plea offer, county prosecutors filed notice to seek the death penalty against Brown at a trial set to start in October.
Once filed, state law won’t allow that death penalty notice to be revoked, said Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll.
That requires Superior Court Judge Kathleen M. O’Connor to give Brown either a life sentence or the death penalty.
“As part of the plea agreement, we will recommend he receive life without parole,” Driscoll said.
State law also dictates that the least O’Connor can give Brown is life without parole.
Murder charges are still pending against Therriault, whose IQ makes him ineligible for capital punishment.
Driscoll said he’s proceeding on the assumption that Therriault’s trial will begin Oct. 6.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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