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Accused killer faces death penalty after withdrawing plea

Jeanette Hawkins and Ricky Morgan
Jeanette Hawkins and Ricky Morgan
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Updated: 8/28/2013 6:41 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the men charged in the 2011 slayings of a newlywed couple withdrew his plea in court at the last minute, and now he faces the death penalty.

Tyreyon Washington pleaded guilty in June to the kidnapping of murder of Jeanette Hawkins and her husband of five months, Ricky Morgan. Yet in a sentencing hearing set for Wednesday, his attorney filed a motion to withdraw the plea, potentially and effectively canceling a deal the defendant had in place with the prosecution. That deal would have reduced his charges to second degree murder through a guilty plea and testimony against two other suspects in the case, a deal which would have kept him off of death row. Second degree murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Washington's attorney asked the court for more time to review the case. A hearing was rescheduled for Sept. 3.

Hawkins and Morgan were killed in a drug-related matter, according to police. The couple went missing in August of 2011 and their car was found burned out in a neighborhood. Then their bodies were recovered, burned and decomposed, from woods near downtown Jacksonville about two weeks after they went missing.

The Florida Times-Union reported Washington is charged in the deaths along with Emanuel Presley and Harochio Varnadore. The newspaper said prosecutors are also pursuing the death penalty against them.
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