MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A former corrections officer pleaded guilty Thursday to fatally shooting two workers at a rural Tennessee post office in a deal that allows him to avoid the death penalty and spend the rest of his life in prison.
Chastain Montgomery, 50, changed his plea to guilty in a deal with prosecutors during a hearing before U.S. Senior District Judge Jon P. McCalla in Memphis. The deal was authorized by Attorney General Eric Holder, said Edward Stanton, U.S. attorney for West Tennessee.
Montgomery will be sentenced to life in prison Aug. 12. There is no parole in the federal system.
Montgomery struggled to answer several questions from McCalla during the hearing, consulting with his lawyers for guidance. But when he was asked by the judge if he felt OK, Montgomery smiled and replied, "I feel pretty good."
Montgomery was charged with shooting Paula Robinson and Judy Spray during an October 2010 robbery of the post office in Henning, about 45 miles northeast of Memphis. Their relatives stared sternly at Montgomery during the hearing.
Prosecutors said Montgomery and his 18-year-old son tried to rob the post office, but they became angry and began shooting after they realized it had just $63 to steal.