One of the men accused of the rape and murder of WKU freshman Katie Autry pleaded guilty Tuesday morning.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Stephen Soules, 21, will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, in exchange for his testimony against co-defendant Lucas Goodrum in Goodrum's trial on the same charges.
Soules plead guilty to seven counts, including first-degree murder, first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, and robbery.
"I was threatened by Lucas Goodrum, so I participated in the murder and arson of Katie Autry, and in the meantime I took some of her property," Soules said when asked by Special Judge Tom Castlen to answer the charges.
Autry was found raped, murdered, and burned in her WKU dorm room on May 3, 2003. Soules had admitted his participation in the murder in statements given to police after his arrest, but had pled not guilty at his initial arraignment.
Goodrum's trial will now most likely begin July 30, the date originally set for Soules' trial.
"With Mr. Soules giving a full and complete statement regarding the events of that night as he always has, we're confident we will obtain a conviction on Lucas Goodrum," Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron said after the hearing.
"This case is a horrible case for all parties involved, in my opinion. The Autry family and also Stephen's family, and hopefully this will bring closure to at least part of this," Soules' public defender Renae Tuck said.
Autry's aunt and family representative Virginia White said the plea agreement brings her family partial closure. "If I could bring Katie back, I'd like to bring Katie back. But knowing that he's at least man enough to say 'Hey, I did this, it was wrong, and I'm sorry for it,' and I have heard that, that does mean something."