Flood Warning issued July 2 at 7:21AM MDT expiring July 2 at 7:21PM MDT in effect for: Otero
One of four men that could face the death penalty avoided that fate by pleading guilty Friday to two counts of conspiracy in a Douglas County murder-for-hire case.Amara Wells and her brother-in-law, Robert Rafferty, were found slain in Rafferty's Keene Ranch home Feb. 23, 2011.Wells' estranged husband, Christopher Wells, is accused of hiring Micah Woody, his former car dealership coworker, to kill the pair.Woody is accused of buying the gun a few days before the murders.The prosecution alleges Woody gave that gun to Josiah Sher, an Army veteran, who admitted in a video taped interview with investigators that he killed Rafferty and Wells, and had intended to kill Tammy Rafferty as well.She wasnt home, however.Woody agreed to a plea bargain where he would plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after deliberation in return for two concurrent 48-year prison sentences. He also got 376 days of credit for time already served.The plea bargain came one month before the district attorney was supposed to announce if the death penalty would be sought against him in the case.Its unfathomable that someone -- a group -- thought it appropriate to take parents from their children, said Tammy Rafferty, wife of Bob Rafferty. I pray for Woodys family -- his children ... theyll have to hang their heads in disgrace for the mistakes he made.The prosecution told the judge that Woody had voluntarily come forward in January with more information about the case.They were things we otherwise wouldnt know, said Brett Cochran, lead prosecutor. The things he did though were despicable and inhumane. He bought the .45 and gave it to Sher, transferred money from Wells to Sher. He gave Sher the address (of the Rafferty home). This sentence is not fair for the victims. But under the law it is fair.It was an extremely emotional hearing, with the family getting special escort to and from the courtroom through back hallways, in order to avoid the media in the public hallway.Amaras father, Dr. Harry Walter took the podium and was immediately in tears.What in Gods name gave a man the authority to participate in taking 2 peoples lives? Walter said. If he leaves prison feet first, therell be a lot of cheers going up.Bob Raffertys daughter Madison, who appears to be middle-school aged, told the judge she hopes Woody dies in prison.He lucked out, big time. The only difference is I get to walk out this door. He gets to walk into a cell, Rafferty said.They heard Woody take responsibility for his role.Theres no excuse for my actions. No suitable retribution for what Ive done. I was using drugs and alcohol. My judgment was clouded. I never believed any of this would happen. It was spoken about so openly. Im in utter disbelief that I became involved. I am sorry, Woody said.The judge kept Woodys sentence to the agreed-upon 48 years but let Woody know that his failure to alert police was noted.The death of a human being for profit. Its hard to understand that, Judge Paul King said. This couldve been stopped.Matthew Plake is accused of driving Sher to and from the home the night of the murders.He and Christopher Wells will find out April 9 if prosecutors will pursue the death penalty in their cases.Both now face first degree murder, punishable only by life in prison or execution, if convicted.The District Attorney has already decided to pursue the execution of Sher.