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Confessed serial killer taken off death row, gets 6 life sentences

The death sentences of a multiple killer on Kentucky's death row have been changed to life in prison in a deal with prosecutors.
Credit: WHAS
Simmons-Beoria.jpg

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The death sentence of a convicted rapist and killer on Kentucky death row has been changed to life in prison as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Beoria A. Simmons will serve six life sentences without parole for a series of kidnappings and killings in Louisville from 1981 through 1983. A judge approved the deal between Simmons and prosecutors in court Tuesday.

Simmons, 55, has been on Kentucky's death row for 25 years under six death sentences.

The deal comes four months after a federal judge ruled Simmons, who is black, could probe whether prosecutors systematically removed minorities from his jury in 1985.

Simmons was convicted of murder, rape and four kidnappings. In three separate cases, authorities say he kidnapped Robin Barnes on March 18, 1981, Shannon House on March 25, 1982, and Nancy Bettman on March 11, 1983, at gunpoint, raped and killed them.

A fourth attempted abduction, on June 11, 1983, resulted in the woman escaping and later identifying Simmons.

'We believe that continuing litigation would eventually result in the outcome that has been achieved today,' said Simmons' attorney, public defender David Barron.

After hours calls to the Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney were not immediately returned.

Simmons' family filled part of Circuit Judge Mary Shaw's courtroom and were pleased with the agreement, saying they were glad Simmons no longer faced the prospect of execution.

U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson in December ruled Simmons could probe how and why Jefferson County prosecutors dismissed minority jurors from the panel in his trial.

Simpson found that the Kentucky Supreme Court erred in not concluding there was enough evidence to warrant a hearing on the issue, saying the ruling 'defies logic.'

The deal reached Tuesday spares prosecutors from providing large volumes of information and providing prosecutors for depositions about jury selection processes in Jefferson County.

As part of the agreement, Simmons will be allowed to stay in a single cell at Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville and may not be moved from the facility. As part of the deal, Simmons will drop all appeals and prosecutors will end attempts to execute him.

At trial, Simmons' attorneys compared him to serial killer Ted Bundy and told jurors their client shouldn't be executed, but studied to find out what made him attack the women.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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