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Reginald Mapp could have spent the rest of his life in prison. Instead, he settled Tuesday for 40 years.

Mapp, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the brutal slaying of 75-year-old JoAnn DeSha, who was strangled to death with a vacuum cleaner cord in her home in 2012.

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Reginald Mapp

On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney General Cameron Williams said that had the case gone to trial, evidence against Mapp would have included his DNA, which was found on the cord wrapped around her neck and under her fingernails at the scene.

"She must have put up a fight during the murder," Williams said.

Mapp's home in the Meadowbrook Heights subdivision was just half a mile from DeSha's. Mapp would have passed DeSha's home on the way to his own, Williams said.

Prosecutors believe Mapp set his sights on an old Cadillac sedan in DeSha's driveway. She refused to sell it to him when he asked, police said, because it belonged to her late husband. Investigators found the owner's manual and keys to the car when they searched Mapp's home after the killing.

Mapp's attorney, Mike Acuff, said the plea agreement was his client's idea.

"He was wanting to come forward and resolve this case, and it was very much his idea to enter a plea bargain," Acuff said.

If convicted at trial, Mapp could have faced life in prison. Williams said DeSha's family is pleased with Mapp's sentence.

"We feel that the sentence is appropriate based on the facts of the case, but certainly I held in the back of my mind that a nice old lady lost her life," Williams said.

Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at cwiseman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.

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