Man pleads guilty to 2014 shooting deaths

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Lauderdale County District Attorney’s Office described it as one of the most awful murders they have ever worked. Late Thursday afternoon, the man being held responsible for the shooting deaths of two women pleaded guilty.

With little emotion on his face, Mark Montgomery was escorted into circuit court. Facing trial and the death penalty in less than two weeks, Montgomery entered a guilty plea during his appearance.

“That finality and surety of that certainly outweighs any effort we would have made to try to get the death penalty,” Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly explained.

In March of 2014, prosecutors said Montgomery executed Joanna Strickland and Clo Stoner. Reports indicated both women were shot multiple times in the head inside his County Road 10 home.

Montgomery was later indicted on two counts of capital murder and aggravated animal cruelty for shooting a dog as well.

District Attorney Chris Connolly said the plea will save the victim’s family members from having to sit through a lengthy trial.

“Death penalty litigation in the state of Alabama is wrong, because it takes an average of 20 years for all the endless appeals to go on and on and on,” stated Connolly. “The family never gets to move on with lives to the extent they can after losing a loved one.”

As part of the plea agreement, Montgomery will have to serve life in prison, without the possibility of parole. His sentencing will be June 30th.

According to prosecutors, the families of the two female victims signed off on the plea agreement with Montgomery. He will also not be able to appeal his life sentence.

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