Nearly three years after Toledoan Mark Ward was shot to death and robbed during a party, the last of three people charged in the incident pleaded guilty today to aggravated murder.
John Winfield, 32, of Flint, Mich., had been scheduled to go to trial next week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to death but instead entered into a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid a possible death penalty.
Judge Ruth Ann Franks accepted Winfield’s Alford plea, found him guilty, and imposed the agreed-upon sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after 28 years. She also gave Winfield credit for the more than two years he already has spent in the Lucas County jail.
Prosecutors said Winfield shot and killed Mr. Ward, 49, during a party at a Bell Avenue home on Dec. 12, 2010. Winfield’s half-brother, Terrance Taylor, and half-sister, Deirdre Taylor, both are serving prison sentences for their roles in the deadly robbery.