UPDATE: Michael Browning accepts plea bargain in American Inn Motel murder

Plea bargains announced in motel capital murder case

UPDATE: TYLER (KYTX)- Michael Browning, has accepted a plea deal to 30 years in Smith Co. Jail.

The deal was accepted today in the 7th District Court.



TYLER (KYTX) -- Smith County prosecutors announced Monday that they were close to resolving a four defendant capital murder case.

Michael Browning, Lawrence Murphy, Jr., Darian Pilkinton and Broderick Smith are all accused of killing 26-year-old Wesley Lester at Tyler's American Inn Motel during the early morning hours of Saturday, June 15, 2013.

Surveillance video revealed four men approaching the motel that morning. Two of them went inside room 218 to kill Lester while the other two acted as lookouts.

Browning, Lawrence, Murphy and Smith were later identified by Tyler police as the men from the video.

Browning'a case was called first. Defense Attorney Bobby Mims indicated he believed a plea bargain was close to happening but had not been reached yet.

Judge Kerry Russell reminded both sides that Friday was the plea deadline set by the court.

District Attorney Matt Bingham said his office had just recently identified an eyewitness who saw the shooting and could identify who actually fired the gun at Lester. He told Russell that he expected all but one of the four cases to be resolved via plea bargain within a matter of weeks.

Arrest affidavits in the case indicated that police believed Pilkinton was the one who shot Lester. Those same documents revealed police suspicions that the murder happened in the course of the four men attempting to rob Lester of a sizable supply of illegal drugs.

Russell inquired as to the specific terms on the table. That was followed by an inaudible bench conference between him, the prosecution and the defense.

The case was reset for August 15.

Murphy's case was called next. Bingham indicated there would be a plea agreement in the case to a lesser charge, contingent upon Murphy's cooperation in other cases.

Defense attorneys told Russell the agreement was likely to be completed soon.

The case was reset for August 22.

Pilkinton's case was called next. Bingham said his office had made an offer on a plea agreement. Defense attorney Jeff Haas indicated Pilkinton would accept it.

The case was reset for August 22.

Smith case was called last. Bingham said a plea bargain had been discussed. Defense attorney Jason Cassel told Judge Russell he was still reviewing new evidence from a witness pertaining to his client.

The case was reset for August 22.

 


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