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Man pleads guilty in southwest Missouri church shooting, avoids death penalty

Friday, March 20, 2009 | 5:35 p.m. CDT

NEOSHO — A man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of three people at a southwest Missouri church in a deal that will allow him to avoid the death penalty.

Eiken Elam Saimon pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of first-degree murder and four counts of first-degree assault in the attack at First Congregational Church in the town of Neosho. Three people died and four were wounded.

Saimon also pleaded guilty to charges of statutory rape and statutory sodomy for a sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl two days before the Aug. 12, 2007, shooting.

Under the deal with prosecutors, Saimon received three life sentences without parole, plus four 30-year sentences for the assaults and two seven-year sentences for the sex offenses.

 


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