A 21-year-old Morganton man already sentenced to life in prison for plotting to unleash a terrorist attack on behalf of the Islamic State, pleaded guilty Monday morning to the murder of his elderly neighbour.
During a 10 a.m. court hearing in Burke County held under unusually tight security, Justin Sullivan admitted he shot and killed John Bailey Clark in December 2014 as the 74-year-old recluse slept in his bedroom.
Federal court documents say Sullivan stole one of his father’s rifles, slipped into Clark’s home just down the street from his parents’ house, and fired three shots into Clark’s head. Clark’s body was found in a shallow grave beside his house.
In return for the plea, according to Sullivan’s attorney, Victoria Jayne of Hickory, Burke County prosecutors will no longer seek the death penalty against Sullivan, who had been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Clark’s death. District Attorney David Learner had announced he would try the case as a capital crime…