FAIRBANKS -- A man who faced charges of first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and other charges for two 1999 shootings has pleaded no contest to manslaughter and a probation violation.
Demetrius McGee, 28, will serve a maximum of 15 years in prison under a plea agreement reached Thursday morning.
McGee would have faced life imprisonment if convicted of murder, attempted murder, plus an assault charge and three weapons misconduct charges, in connection with the July 1999 shooting death of Lee Razor and a March 1999 shootout in a Fred Meyer store parking lot.
''This sounds like it's very much on the lenient side,'' Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly said during the change of plea hearing. ''Based on my limited information, I have some hesitation accepting this agreement.''
But Pengilly approved the deal, acknowledging that the attorneys involved were better informed about the case than he was.
Prosecutor Scott Mattern said he chose to accept the plea bargain based on potential difficulties in the state's winning either case.
The shooting in the parking lot could have been defended as self-defense, Mattern said.
As for the murder case, Mattern said, a central figure in the state's case against McGee died in an accidental September 2000 house fire. Without the witness, Mattern said, the state's case was more tenuous.
Razor, 22, was standing in the yard of an apartment complex when he was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest. Prosecutors charged that McGee was the shooter and that he had fired several shots with a handgun from a moving car. They believe the incident was related to a cocaine theft a few days before the shooting.
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