Thursday, March 29, 2001

Guilty plea expected in slaying




By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The man accused of abducting and killing a University of Cincinnati student last year is expected to plead guilty to avoid a possible death sentence.

        Michael Price, 19, withdrew his request for a jury trial Wednesday and asked for a plea hearing before a three-judge panel.

        Ohio law requires such a panel when a defendant in a death penalty case asks to enter a plea. If the hearing goes as planned April 5, Mr. Price will likely face a prison sentence of life without parole.

        The Winton Terrace man is charged with shooting to death UC student David Peet. Prosecutors say Mr. Price and another man, 17-year-old David McGee, abducted Mr. Peet after talking him into giving them a ride in his car on Aug. 14.

        Prosecutors say Mr. Peet was forced into the trunk, driven to a dead-end street, robbed at gunpoint and shot in the head as he begged for his life.

        Mr. McGee pleaded guilty to murder in January for his role in the crime. Mr. Price's case was set for trial next month before he opted for the plea hearing.

        His attorney, Perry Ancona, confirmed his client will enter a plea at the April 5 hearing, but he would not comment further. The panel will consist of Common Pleas judges Robert Ruehlman, Fred Cartolano and Steven Martin.

        Prosecutor Mike Allen said he agreed to the plea hearing after Mr. Peet's family urged him to accept a deal. “We agreed to do this because of the strong request by the family,” Mr. Allen said. “They want to put this behind them.”

        He said plea hearings in death penalty cases have become more common in the past two years because Ohio law now allows a life sentence without chance of parole.

        Mr. Price's hearing will be the fourth such case in just over a year.

       



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