UPDATE: Plea deal made in the murder of Ashland man

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A heartbroken father talks to us about the plea deal his son's killer took just weeks before a second trial.

Shots fired out on Belvidere Street last summer. A stray bullet ended up killing 29-year-old Billy Ennis as he was driving home to Ashland.

Richmond police charged 18-year-old James Taylor Junior for murder - he was looking at 60 years behind bars if convicted. But during the initial trial - less than a month ago - a judge declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Ennis's father, Bill Ennis told NBC12 today that he's "not happy with the Richmond jury pool system and not happy with the way the trial went."

Ennis was looking forward to the new trial set for April. But about a week ago, Taylor's defense attorneys were offered a plea deal - plead guilty and serve eight years or risk getting 60 years if convicted.

"Mr. Taylor was concerned about a period of incarceration and facing a potential 6 decades behind bars if a jury were to convict him," said defense attorney, Rich Johnson.

A key piece of evidence - a confession tape - would be used again in the new trial. Johnson says the tape starts off with an interrogation, then stops - starts up again 15 minutes later with a tearful confession.

"The whole time that he gave that confession after denying it 27 times before hand, that was going to be presented again to a jury and we understood that is a pretty high hurdle to overcome in order to get an acquittal," said Johnson.

Johnson said that's why Taylor opted for the plea deal.

"He's going to serve his years, and he understands he confessed to that and we can't change the evidence," said Johnson.

The victim's father, Ennis said in response to that, it was, "probably the best we could get", it's "settled in the judicial system, now it's in God's hands"

Taylor really got 25 years with 17 years suspended - so that's why he'll only serve 8. But if he does anything wrong in prison, those suspended years could be added on.

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