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SD County man admits hammer killing of 94-year-old

Posted: April 15, 2013 9:00 p.m.
Updated: April 15, 2013 9:00 p.m.
 

EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) — A San Diego County man has pleaded guilty to killing his 94-year-old neighbor with a hammer as she slept.

A district attorney's statement says 64-year-old Gary Thomas entered the plea Monday, when jury selection was to begin for his trial. Thomas will be sentenced to 26 years-to-life in prison June 26.

Prosecutors say in April 2012, victim Mary Jean Eskridge allowed her friend Thomas to spend the night in her mobile home's spare bedroom.

They say while Eskridge slept, Thomas grabbed a hammer from a kitchen toolbox and used it to fatally beat her.

Police say Thomas confessed after the killing, but he disputed his guilt and was ordered to trial. No information on a motive has been released.

Eskridge was a former professional dancer who owned a dance studio.

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