A man on trial for the Jan. 30, 2009, murder of Athens, Tenn., injection molding company owner Jeff Beene has pleaded guilty to second degree murder. According to local news reports, the prosecution was about halfway through its case against Daniel Lankey when court broke for lunch. When the defense returned, Lankey's lawyers asked about the possibility of a plea deal. The district attorney asked Beene's family, and then agreed to offer Lankey a 40-year prison sentence. Beene, 58, had run the family-owned Plastic Industries Inc. since 1980. He was guarding a PI building that was being renovated and was not in use when he contacted police saying he had caught a burglar. When police arrived, they found the wounded Beene, who was flown by helicopter to an area hospital. Authorities believe Beene was holding another suspect at gunpoint when he was shot by Lankey. Lankey, 31, briefly worked at PI. He will be eligible for release at age 71.
Plea deal ends Beene murder trial
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