Man pleads guilty to stabbing and killing girlfriend

File photo from Cornelius in court September 2007.

It's life in prison without parole for an Aynor man who pleaded guilty today to killing his girlfriend.

In court Friday, Edwin Cornelius offered an emotional appeal for mercy, but the judge was not moved.

Head bowed, and sobbing at times, 26-year-old Edwin Cornelius faced a judge to plead guilty to murder.

Cornelius stabbed 18-year-old Natalia Holmes 15 times in the parking lot of Carolina Forest High School in May 2006.

When it came time for sentencing, his attorney talked of Cornelius' childhood painting an ugly picture of sexual abuse, forced drug use, and mental illness.

Later, Cornelius gave a long and rambling statement detailing his desire for a normal life, his attempts to kill himself, and his feelings for Natalia Holmes.

"I never once thought about hurting her. She's all I had. She's the only thing that meant something to me in this world," Cornelius said.

But, he did plead guilty, and Judge Larry Hyman told him, " I cannot not in good faith subject the people of South Carolina to you."

Cornelius will spend the rest of his life in prison.

"Obviously, we're disappointed by the sentence that he received, and that's the judge's decision, and I'm not going to second guess what he does," Ralph Wilson, Cornelius' attorney, said.

Cornelius might have been able to get a shorter sentence last year when the state agreed to give him 40 years in prison if he agreed to plead guilty in order to avoid a lengthy trial. But, that deal fell apart, and prosecutors say Cornelius has no one to blame but himself.

"It was clear that the defendant was not yet ready to fully admit his guilt, and the court set it aside, as it should have," Deputy Solicitor Fran Humphries said.

In tears, Cornelius told the judge, "I'm always in a rage, and I don't know why."

The prosecutor said after hearing that, what choice did the judge have but to send Cornelius to prison.

If Cornelius hadn't pleaded Friday, his murder trial would have started next Monday.