Gunman Pleads Guilty in D.C. Principal's Death

Monday, Nov 8, 2010  |  Updated 8:19 PM EDT
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The gunman in the shooting death of <a title=Brian Betts agrees to a plea deal." />

Chris Gordon

The gunman in the shooting death of Brian Betts agrees to a plea deal.

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The gunman in the death of a D.C. middle school principal pleaded guilty Monday, NBC Washington's Chris Gordon reported.

Alante Saunders, 19, pleaded guilty to felony murder during the commission of a felony -- robbery -- with the understanding that a sentence of life with all but 40 years suspended be recommended, Gordon reported. His trial was supposed to start next week.

Brian Betts, principal at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School, was found dead in his Silver Spring, Md., home April 15 after he failed to show for work.

Saunders and Betts connected via a social chat line April 14, and Saunders went to Betts's home with the three other teenagers with the understanding that Betts would leave the door unlocked, authorities said. They entered and Saunders went upstairs with a gun.

The defense noted the gun didn't belong to Saunders, Gordon reported. The prosecution did not agree with the defense contention that Saunders shot Betts accidentally.

Saunders will be sentenced Nov. 23. If he does get life with all but 40 years suspended, as recommended in the plea deal, he will be first eligible for parole in about 20 years.

The three other teenagers have been charged with murder in the case. The mother of one of the suspects also was charged with using at least one of Betts' stolen credit cards.

Stay with NBC4 and NBCWashington.com for more information.

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