SMITHLAND, Ky. - A western Kentucky man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing three children and assaulting their mother at their rural home in 2008.
Jury selection in Kevin Wayne Dunlap's trial was set to begin on Wednesday.
Dunlap, 37, of Hopkinsville, pleaded guilty to all 11 counts against his attorney's advice, The Kentucky New Era reported. Dunlap's attorney, James Gibson, declined to comment after the hearing.
Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall asked Dunlap why he decided to plead guilty and Dunlap replied, "it's what I feel is right."
The former Army soldier was accused of killing a 5-year-old boy and the child's 14- and 17-year-old sisters in rural Trigg County in October 2008. The Associated Press is not identifying the victims or their mother because she was the victim of a sexual assault.
She sat in the front row of the courtroom Tuesday in Livingston County, where the trial was moved because of intense media publicity.
She began to cry when Woodall read the charges, along with her children's names.
Woodall denied an initial motion by Dunlap's attorneys to enter a guilty but mentally ill plea.
Commonwealth's Attorney G.L. Ovey argued that there has been no evidence to suggest Dunlap has a mental illness. Ovey did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
A jury must be assembled to recommend a sentence for Dunlap, who could face the death penalty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday.
The killings shocked the tiny community of Roaring Spring, near the Fort Campbell Army post.
Dunlap was arrested three days after the killings. Police said he approached the mother in her backyard before forcing her inside the home at gunpoint, and raped and stabbed her. When her three children arrived home from school, he fatally stabbed and setting fire to the home.
Dunlap had previously lived down the street from the home where the attacks occurred.