ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man charged with killing one of his roommates with a hatchet and injuring another in an attack one year ago has changed his plea.
Lamar Gathers, 23, pleaded no contest Tuesday to first-degree murder and first-degree assault. As part of the plea bargain, Gathers agreed to a sentence of up to 105 years.
Jury selection in Gathers' trial for killing Dustin Gard, 19, with an ax and slashing Bridgette Blezinski was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
As recently as last week, the defense seemed ready to go with a claim that someone named Kareem broke into the house and attacked the couple despite Blezinski's expected eyewitness testimony that Gathers was the assailant.
Gard and Blezinski, also 19 at the time, were housesitting at an Eagle River home last August. They worked with Gathers' brother at Wal-Mart and let Gathers stay with them temporarily while he looked for a permanent home.
But, according to the charges, Gard and Blezinski asked Gathers to leave because he didn't clean up after himself and because money was missing from a change jar and they suspected he had taken it.
On Aug. 29, Gard and Blezinski were sleeping when, sometime after 2 a.m., Blezinski woke to screams and to Gathers attacking Gard with an ax, the charges say. Gathers had apparently used a ladder to gain access to a patio door.
When Blezinski also screamed, Gathers slashed her several times, including in the arm and head, then returned to attacking Gard.
Fayette said Blezinski talked Gathers out of killing her, engaging him in conversation for about an hour. She pleaded for permission to call 911 to save Gard, who lived for a while after the attack, but Gathers smashed the phone.
Blezinski eventually maneuvered Gathers from the bedroom into the kitchen. When he went to get her a glass of water, she escaped and ran screaming to the home of a neighbor.
Judge Dan Hensley set sentencing for Jan. 10.
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