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St. Joseph inmate admits to strangling cellmate

Updated: 2013-09-27T17:08:57Z

— A northwest Missouri man convicted of killing his 7-year-old son has pleaded guilty to strangling a cellmate in the Buchanan County jail.

Tony King, 29, of Bethany, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Michael A. Bozarth in June. He told Buchanan County Judge Dan Kellogg that he strangled Bozarth while they were alone in the cell.

At the time, King was awaiting sentencing for the January 2012 death of his son, Jeremiah Lamm, whose body was found in their burned-out mobile home in Harrison County.

He was sentenced in July to life in prison plus two 15-year sentences in the boy's death, the St. Joseph News-Press reported.

King initially pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Bozarth's death.

"I'd had discussions with Mr. King's attorney, and (Thursday) was the deadline date to make a decision," said prosecutor Dwight Scroggins. "The game plan was to avoid further delay, but coming into court I didn't know what he'd do."

Second-degree murder carries a possible sentence of between 10 and 30 years or life in prison. Scroggins suggested a 20-year sentence, saying in the unlikely event that King successfully appeals his conviction in his son's death, the 20-year sentence will ensure that he stays in prison. King will be sentenced Oct. 31.

Bozarth, of St. Joseph, was in jail on pending charges after being sentenced to 90 days in jail in January for third-degree assault, according to court documents.

The Associated Press

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