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New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty In Camden Torture-Murder

Camden Police

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CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man about to stand trial on murder charges in a case where two victims were tortured, killed and left partially buried in a Camden yard has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Twenty-two-year-old Dennis Welch of Camden faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to aggravated manslaughter. Camden County prosecutors say he entered the plea as a jury was being selected to hear his murder case.

Welch admitted beating Michael Hawkins, a 23-year-old Mount Holly resident was attacked and shot in a gang dispute in February 2010.

But he was not charged in the death of Hawkins’ girlfriend, 18-year-old Muriah Huff. Prosecutors say Huff was an innocent bystander who was killed to prevent her from identifying the attackers.

Nine of the 10 people charged in the case have either pleaded guilty or been convicted of various offenses related to one or both of the killings.

The trial of the remaining defendant, Peter Leonce, is tentatively scheduled to start early next month. He faces numerous charges, including two counts of murder.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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