DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A man accused of fatally beating and stabbing two metro Detroit brothers in 1975 has pleaded no contest to manslaughter.
In return for 57-year-old David Fowler’s plea, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge dismissed a charge of first-degree murder.
Fowler, who had been in prison under an alias, was extradited from Georgia in February 2012 after DNA tests linked him to the deaths of 34-year-old Michael Belt and 18-year-old Jeffrey Belt.
The Belt brothers were beaten with a board and stabbed during a robbery at a home in the 37000 block of Plymouth Road in Livonia.
Fowler fled the state shortly after the killings. Prosecutors issued an open murder warrant and a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, but were unable to track Fowler.
Two other defendants were charged, tried, convicted and served time in prison for their role in the crimes while investigators continued their search for Fowler.
DNA recovered at the scene of the murders was eventually put into the nationwide database. In June of 2011, a hit on that DNA occurred in Georgia from an inmate known as Richard David Taylor. Livonia detectives went to Georgia and were able to confirm that Taylor was, in fact, the wanted fugitive — Fowler.
Fowler, who has previous convictions for shoplifting, receiving stolen property and escape, is scheduled to be sentenced May 23. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
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