Eric Townsend, on trial this week for his part in a March 2008 double homicide near Franklinton, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday evening.
He was being tried on two counts of first-degree murder. The plea includes 30 years behind bars, according to the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s office.
Townsend, of Franklinton, pleaded guilty in the murders of Kimberly Sims, 32, and Demille Williams, 27, who were found shot and burned in their bedroom of their home on Pittman Road, about six miles north of Franklinton, on March 13, 2008. More than a year passed after the crime before Townsend was arrested in June 2009. He pleaded not guilty in July 2009.
Jeremy Wilson of Franklinton was arrested just days after Townsend and also charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He also pleaded not guilty and remains in jail awaiting trial.
Three others — Ricky Oneil Magee, Monica Simmons and Andrew James — were arrested in connection to the case in 2008, but a grand jury failed to indict any of them, and after months in jail they were released.
Firefighters and deputies responded to a 911 call at 6:30 in the morning on March 13 and found the home on Pittman Road fully engulfed in flames. They soon found the two bodies, which were still in the bed together. An autopsy revealed the cause of death for both Sims and Williams were gunshot wounds.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office released few details at the time of the arrests, saying only the arrests came as the result of firearms evidence recovered just before the arrests of Townsend and Wilson. They would not say if the firearms evidence was the murder weapon.
The case was tried by assistant district attorneys Ken Dohre and Lewis Murray. Twenty-second Judicial District Court Judge Rusty Knight presided.