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A 20-year-old man accused of fatally shooting two former co-workers at a northern Indiana pizza shop has pleaded guilty to the slayings.
Jose Benitez-Tilley pleaded guilty Thursday in Elkhart County to two counts of murder ahead of a jury trial that had been set for Aug. 1, The Elkhart Truth reported.
Benitez-Tilley acknowledged under questioning Thursday by Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno that he shot and killed Haley Smith, 22, and Dustin Carr, 37, in February as they were working the closing shift at a Papa Johns restaurant in Elkhart.
The bodies of Smith and Carr, who were engaged, were found Feb. 12 behind the restaurant by an employee who arrived that morning to open the eatery.
Benitez-Tilley’s plea agreement sets a 65-year sentence for each count of murder, to be served concurrently. A count of abuse of a corpse he had faced was dismissed under the plea deal.
The prison term represents the maximum punishment for murder. Benitez-Tilley’s attorney, Jeffrey Majerek, said his client could finish his sentence in a little under 49 years.
Elkhart is located about 15 miles (24.1 kilometers) east of South Bend.