A man found with the skeletal remains of a woman hidden in his backpack pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in North Carolina.
But Michael Dorman, 33, told the court on Friday that he entered the plea because he didn't have a shot at a fair trial in the death of Lakiea Lacole Boxley, the News & Observer reported.
Salacious sexual details and allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct colored the unusual case from the start.
“I am not pleading guilty out of guilt, but out of fear I won’t get an unbiased or fair trial,” Dorman said in a written statement, reported by WTVO.
Boxley, 31, vanished from her Durham apartment in 2008. Dorman, who has a history of mental illness, was arrested in 2010 after police said a friend of his turned him in, WNCN reported
Dorman allegedly told the friend that he needed help disposing of the remains of a prostitute he'd fatally shot.
On Friday, Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols told the court that Dorman said he accidentally shot Boxley in the head with a shotgun after she refused to have sex with him. When that didn't kill her, he strangled the woman and put her body in a suitcase, WRAL-TV reported.
But when questioned by investigators after his arrest, Dorman said he simply found Boxley's remains and planned to use them for sexual gratification, according WNCN.
Dorman was initially charged with murder, but that charge was dismissed in 2011 when Boxley's family had her body cremated before the defense team could gather evidence, the News & Record reported. The judge contended there was a conspiracy among the Durham county district attorney's office, the Durham police department, and the state medical examiner to destroy evidence.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals later reinstated the murder charge, which led to Dorman's plea deal for voluntary manslaughter, according to the Associated Press.
On Friday, Dorman entered an Alford plea and received a minimum of 61 months in prison for Boxley's death.
In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the evidence could lead to a guilty verdict.