DAYTON, Ohio – A man pleaded guilty on Friday to killing a young mother and kidnapping her 4-year-old son, who later was found alone in his pajamas at a highway rest stop.
Charlie Myers, 23, and prosecutors agreed to the plea deal that allowed him to avoid the death penalty. He'll now serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Myers went to the family's home and planned to rob it. He tied the woman up in the basement, had sexual contact with her 4-year-old son and fatally shot the woman after she broke free and stabbed him, prosecutors have said.
The woman's husband angrily pointed at Myers during the hearing Friday.
"The fact that you grew up in a broken home gave you no right to break his," he said. "You are the monster in his nightmares. You are hated."
The Associated Press is not naming the family so as not to identify the victim of an alleged sexual offense.
Myers apologized to the victim's family in court, including the woman's husband. He said he understands what he did was wrong.
Myers didn't know the 29-year-old woman he was accused of killing, and found his way to her home after he stole a car belonging to the victim's family in the weeks before the killing, prosecutors said.
The car was stolen from a parking garage at Ohio State University in Columbus, where the boy's mother and father had attended a rock concert to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary.
Using information found in the unlocked vehicle, the Columbus man tracked down the couple who lived 75 miles away in Dayton.
After the killing, Myers left the boy at an Interstate 70 rest stop with no coat or shoes.
The boy was standing alone in the lobby of the rest stop late at night on Jan. 2 last year. A couple driving home to Maryland after Christmas took the boy into their car to warm up and called police.
He told them that "a man came into my house without knocking and shot my mommy."
Myers was arrested just a few days later. Authorities found a cell phone, a laptop and a Playstation 2 video game system that were similar to items stolen from the woman's home.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Langer sentenced Myers soon after he pleaded guilty.
Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman said dropping the death penalty was the key to the plea agreement.
"Whenever you have the risk of being killed, as opposed to life, even if that life is behind bars, there is always hope," he said.
Detectives said Myers admitted to the crimes after first denying being involved.
James Davis, a corrections officer at the Montgomery County Jail, testified during a pretrial hearing in September that he asked Myers how he had gotten a cut on his back.
"He said, 'That woman cut me, and then I killed her,"' Davis quoted Myers as telling him.