Man Pleads Guilty In 2010 Triple Murder In Manchester
COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. – A former Army sniper accused of killing a woman and her two young sons in Manchester has pleaded guilty in order to avoid the death penalty.
Matthew Perkins pleaded guilty Monday to the murders of his girlfriend, 26-year-old Stephanie Hershman, and her sons, three-year-old Jathan and one-year-old Jaylon, at their Manchester home in September 2010. The deal includes three consecutive life sentences with no chance for parole.
Nearly 30 family members were in court Monday, and had to approve the deal before he could accept it.
Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty, but the district attorney general's office said in a statement that they accepted the plea agreement based on uncertainties about whether a jury would unanimously impose the death penalty.
Police found Hershman and her two sons wrapped inside garbage bags inside a closet at their home. They had been stabbed to death and had their throats cut.
Authorities found Perkins barricaded inside a nearby motel. Police eventually took Perkins into custody, and investigators said he confessed to the killings.
During a court hearing in December 2010, investigators said Perkins admitted to losing control after doing morphine with Hershman.
Perkins served as an MP in Iraq and Afghanistan, and worked as an army recruiter. Perkins' family members believed his time in Iraq and Afghanistan affected his mental state.
In an exclusive interview with reporter Nick Beres in February 2011, he originally said he wanted to die. He later told Nick he wanted to live and would likely accept a plea deal.