The first of three men charged in the 2010 killing of a 21-year-old Hixson man will spend the next 20 years in prison.
Billy Bob Partin, 41, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Monday in Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom.
Rich Heinsman, one of Partin's two attorneys, said his client would have faced a possible life sentence if the case had gone to trial on June 17 as scheduled and he was found guilty.
Partin admitted he was at the home of Tucker King and Chance LeCroy on Sept. 9, 2010, to rob them of drugs and cash with the help of Ronald Lee Pittman and Patrick Carmody.
Heisman acknowledged that Partin was a part of the shooting but said he was involved much less than Carmody, whom Pittman has identified as the shooter.
"We believed [Partin's] culpability was less than some of the other participants," Heinsman said.
Pittman, 44, testified two years ago that he held a gun on King as Carmody robbed LeCroy. The plan was to take the money and drugs and leave. But Carmody shot LeCroy, Pittman said. The pair then fought, Pittman said, and Carmody shot LeCroy again, killing him.
Pittman faces a charge of facilitation of first-degree murder for his alleged part in the shooting. A court hearing in his case is set for Aug. 25. Carmody is scheduled for trial Sept. 30 on a charge of first-degree murder.
Prosecutor Neal Pinkston declined to comment on Partin's plea or sentencing due to pending cases against the remaining co-defendants.
Partin was sentenced to the middle of the range of punishment for second-degree murder, which carries a 15- to 25-year sentence. Heinsman said Partin's mid-range sentence was due to a low criminal history based on state sentencing guidelines.
He will have to serve 100 percent of the sentence, with credit for time served awaiting trial.
Contact staff writer Todd South at email@example.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.