Three men have admitted that they were involved in the slayings of two Lincoln County residents in 2002 during a botched robbery.
Deonte Simmons, Neccolus Mundy and Charles E. Smith — all 26 and all from Richmond, pleaded guilty Monday in the slayings of Ryan Shangraw, 20, and Harold "Bo" Upton III, 18.
The pleas mean that all five men charged in a case that took years to solve have now been convicted.
"At least I know now who murdered my only child," said Upton's mother, Sherry Moore. "They sentenced me to a life without a child."
Simmons pleaded guilty to wanton murder, robbery, burglary and wanton endangerment, Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery said.
Simmons' plea acknowledges that he was in Shangraw's small trailer when Shangraw and Upton were shot to death.
Mundy and Smith, who waited outside during the attempted robbery, pleaded guilty to facilitation to commit murder and complicity to commit robbery and burglary.
The recommended sentence for Smith is life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
The plea deal calls for Mundy and Smith to be sentenced to 20 years each. They would have to serve 80 percent of that time before being eligible for parole because it was a violent crime, Montgomery said.
According to testimony at an earlier trial, five people, two of them juveniles, traveled from Richmond to rural Lincoln County in February 2002 to rob Shangraw because they knew he sold cocaine.
Upton, a high-school senior, and two teen-age girls had stopped to visit Shangraw before going to a dance. They were there when the assailants entered Shangraw's trailer.
After Shangraw told the robbers he didn't have any cocaine and struggled briefly with Jamarkos Campbell, Campbell shot him, according to another of the would-be robbers, Matthew Tolson.
Tolson said he thought Simmons then shot Upton, although he didn't witness that.
The two girls were grazed by bullets but not seriously hurt.
It took years before a key piece of evidence surfaced in the case: DNA on a bandanna thrown away near the murder scene, which analysis showed matched Campbell's DNA.
Police were able to make that link after Campbell was arrested on drug-related charges in Richmond years after the murders and authorities took a DNA sample from him.
A jury convicted Campbell of wanton murder. He was sentenced last month to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 25 years.
Tolson pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Aug. 28 along with Simmons, Mundy and Smith.
Moore said she is happy with the convictions and recommended sentences in the case.
She has chased answers for years in her son's murder. She and her ex-husband, Harold Upton Jr., raised money for a reward and paid for a billboard in Stanford seeking information in the case.
Now, instead of looking for information, she can move on to projects she wants to do in her son's memory, Moore said: writing a book and recording songs.
"It's been so hard," Moore said. "I miss my son so bad."