Updated: Tuesday, 26 Jul 2011, 5:22 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 26 Jul 2011, 5:22 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - One of four suspects accused in the murder of Albuquerque school teacher Ellen Roth pleaded guilty Tuesday in a deal that could net him a 15-year prison sentence.
Christopher Donovan spent some time in court Tuesday going over the deal with his attorney, Gary Mitchell.
Donovan is one of four people accused in the murder of Ellen Roth, 61, who was reported missing in May 2009. Her body was found four months later in a shallow grave in the Jemez Mountains.
In November, the first guilty plea in the case came in from Bella Gonzales whose only involvement was helping to dispose of Roth's body. She got probation and agreed to testify against the others: Roth's daughter-in-law, Cathleen Roth, James Johnson and Donovan.
Prosecutors charge the group murdered Roth after she reported her son Bryan to police for stealing and using her credit cards. Bryan Roth was jailed at the time of the murder and is now in Arkansas with his father.
On Tuesday Donovan pleaded guilty to six counts including second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, tampering and conspiracy.
"It was a fair negotiation with state of new Mexico because we have a young man with no prior record," Mitchell said after the plea hearing. "An intelligent young man who should have known better."
Family members of Ellen Roth declined to speak on camera but told News 13 the 15 years is not equivalent to the life of Ellen Roth.
District Judge Charles Brown said he wants to hear more evidence before sentencing Donovan on Sept. 7.