A serial killer who prosecutors say burned some of his victims to ash and bits of bone in his mother's backyard pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing eight women.
Under a deal with prosecutors, Larry Bright, 39, escaped a possible death sentence and instead will get life in prison without parole.
Four of his victims' bodies were found dumped along little-traveled roads around Peoria in 2003 and 2004, and the remains of the others were found in burn pits in the yard at the home he shared with his mother.
The killings and the time it took authorities to connect them and then track down the killer caused an uproar in Peoria's black community. The victims were black and several were prostitutes and drug addicts. Bright is white.
The former concrete worker did not comment in court other than answering "Yes, Sir" and "No, Sir" to the judge's questions, but in a statement read by an attorney, he said: "I know I've committed some horrible and unthinkable acts. I am very sorry for the grief and heartache that I have caused."
Authorities have refused to discuss a motive but say Bright was fascinated with sex and pornography involving black women.
Bright pleaded guilty Tuesday to seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of drug-induced homicide.
"I think it's a fair resolution," defense attorney Jay Elmore said. "This guy is never going to see the light of day and he knows he should never see the light of day."
Prosecutor Kevin Lyons said he agreed to the deal after consulting with victims' families, who generally supported sparing Bright's life in exchange for the guilty pleas.
Before handing down the life sentence, Judge James Shadid told Bright that victims' families showed "more consideration, more mercy and more respect for your life than you showed them for theirs."