LITTLE ROCK, AR - After consulting with the family of Pvt. William Long, prosecutors accepted a guilty plea from Abdulhakim Muhammad on Monday, ending his capital murder trial. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 11 life sentences and an additional 180 years by circuit judge Herbert Wright.
Attorneys were ready for week two of the capital murder case on Monday morning when Pulaski County prosecutor Larry Jegley says everything changed.
"The Long's are good people and when the defendant through his attorneys asked if there was any chance of life without (parole) being accepted by the family we said 'I don't know," Jegley says. "We'll go to them if that's what you're going to do."
Daris Long, father of Pvt. William Andrew "Andy" Long told reporters both families considered the offer together.
"Well, I knew it would get contentious," Daris Long says. "It was a difficult thing, we had to sit down as a family. We got with Quinton's mother and Quinton."
"I was like, it's whatever you want to do," Private Quinton Ezeagwula says. "You know, we're family, we're going to come together and we're going to make a decision and it's whatever with me."
"And we sat in there, probably not unlike the jury going through what the best thing to do was," Long says. "And given the situation he could be considered crazy and walk in three months, you're not guaranteed any particular turnout."
"They (Long family) showed a lot more mercy to Carlos Bledsoe, Abdulhakim Muhammad than Muhammad showed to their son and Private Ezeagwula," Jegley says.
"I'm okay with everything," Ezeagwula says.
Muhammad's family said nothing leaving the courtroom, but Long says now the families share yet another common interest.
"There are federal issues involved with this, I agree with Mr. Bledsoe in that area," Long says. "And I would like to see the feds step up to the plate."
No word from the U.S. attorney's office whether there could be federal charges filed.
Long says he has no feelings towards Muhammad. During victim impact statements in the penalty phase Long told Judge Wright he is saddened that he will only see his son Andy at age 23.
"I won't give up my son's memory, I'll suck it up and deal with it," Long says. "This trial has not opened old wounds, it just confirms they are still there."
After court proceedings ended, Long said he wanted to personally thank the Little Rock Police Department for their quick apprehension of Muhammad just 11 minutes after the shooting.
Muhammad received the maximum sentence allowed, short of the death penalty, for the charges he faced. In addition to life in prison without parole for Long's murder and life in prison for the attempted murder of Ezeagwula, he received 10 life sentences for unlawful discharge of a firearm, plus 15-year enhancements for each of the twelve shots he fired on June 1, 2009, adding an additional 180 years. All sentences are served consecutively and can not be appealed.
Muhammad was taken out of the Pulaski County courthouse away from the view of cameras and the press. The Arkansas Department of Corrections says he is en route to its diagnostic center in Pine Bluff before being assigned to a permanent facility.