71 / 51
      69 / 52
      68 / 53

      Three suspects in Florence County double murder plead guilty

      Anthony Wingate

      Three of the four suspects accused of playing a role in a double murder in Florence County in 2009 pleaded guilty Wednesday morning.

      Billy Hall, 26, and Talya Poston, 32, were found shot to death on Isaiah Road in Florence County in September of 2009.

      The man who pulled the trigger, Montez Barker, 28, had a competency hearing Wednesday morning, and Judge Thomas Russo found Barker competent to stand trial.

      After talking with his attorney, Barker decided to plead guilty to two counts of Murder, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny and Arson.

      The state decided not to seek the death penalty against Barker as a result of his plea. Judge Russo sentenced him to life in prison. "It's just all and all disturbing. I wish I could do something to ease these families pain," the judge said.

      Laross Graham, 30, was also in the courtroom Wednesday and pleaded guilty to two counts of Murder, Conspiracy and Grand Larceny in the murders.

      Twelfth Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements says Graham was present when Poston and Hall were gunned down. Graham faces up to life in prison and will be sentenced at a later time.

      Anthony Wingate, 33, pled guilty to Accessory After the Fact of Murder and Conspiracy Wednesday morning in connection with the murders.

      He hid the gun used in the murders. "His job was to get rid of the weapon. That's basically his participation at that time," said Solicitor Clements.

      Judge Russo deferred sentencing Wingate but allowed him to remain out of jail on bond until he is sentenced. No date has been set for his sentence hearing.

      Clements says Fonnelze Delaine, the man accused of hiring Graham to kill Poston and Hall, is expected to be tried later this year.

      Clements says Delaine orchestrated the murders because one of the victims was scheduled to appear as a witness against him in a pending drug case. The state is seeking the death penalty against Delaine.