Prosecutor: Mississippi man to plead guilty in nuns’ deaths

Published 4:10 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi prosecutor said Tuesday that a man charged with killing two nuns in 2016 will plead guilty as part of an agreement that removes the possibility of the death penalty.

District Attorney Akillie Malone-Oliver told The Associated Press she spoke with the victims’ families before agreeing that Robert Earl Sanders of Kosciusko, Mississippi, could plead guilty to capital murder. She said the agreement calls for him to be sentenced to life without parole.

Malone-Oliver said the decision takes into consideration that the two women who were killed, Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill, opposed the death penalty.
“Life without parole is the highest punishment, other than death,” Malone-Oliver said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The nuns, both 68, worked as nurse practitioners in one of the poorest parts of the U.S. They were found stabbed to death Aug. 25, 2016, in their home in the small town of Durant after failing to show up for work at a health clinic in nearby Lexington. Sanders, 46 at the time, was arrested the next day and has remained jailed.

A court administrator confirmed Sanders’ hearing is set for June 21 before Circuit Judge Jannie Lewis in Belzoni.