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NEWPORT — A 26-year-old northeast Arkansas man has avoided a possible death sentence by pleading guilty to killing his grandparents.

Nicholaus Patterson pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree murder in the July 2018 shooting deaths of Ricky Bozwell and Rite Bozwell, both 66, at their home in Pocahontas.

Patterson said only that he wished to continue without claiming any mental defects and entered the pleas. He was sentenced to 110 years in prison.

Prosecutors initially planned to seek the death penalty. Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce said in a statement that he's satisfied that Patterson admitted his guilt and that the "plea spares the family the ordeal of trial."

Boyce said the sentence is essentially a life sentence because Patterson will not be eligible for parole for 77 years, when he would be 103 years old.

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