LUDINGTON (WWJ/AP) – A 21-year-old western Michigan man has pleaded guilty to murder charges for fatally shooting his sister and strangling her friend with a belt in the trailer they shared.

In Mason County Circuit Court in Ludington, Patrick Bentley pleaded guilty to felony firearm, arson/preparation to burn, and unlawful driving away of an automobile, in addition to two second-degree murder charges.

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Bentley is to get a prison sentence of 48 to 65 years, plus two additional years for the felony firearm count. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 18.

Bentley’s accomplice, 19-year-old co-defendant Lashawn Whipple, pleaded guilty in September to second-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and unlawful driving away of an automobile. She’s to get 30 to 60 years in prison at her Dec. 4 sentencing.

The bodies of 18-year-old Lacey Bentley and 35-year-old Fernando Ramirez were found Jan. 27, in Victory Township, near Scottville.

According to court documents, Whipple said she shot Lacey Bentley twice. When Lacey Bentley called for help from her brother, Whipple said Patrick Bentley went into the trailer and shot her again. Police said Lacey Bentley was shot eight times.

Court documents show that Whipple and Patrick Bentley then waited for Ramirez to return to the trailer, with Patrick Bentley eventually putting Ramirez in a choke hold. Whipple said she got Patrick Bentley a belt, which he used to finish strangling Ramirez. Patrick Bentley then allegedly set the home on fire.

The two then took Ramirez’s car and fled the state, investigators said. They were later arrested in Kentucky.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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