Missouri man pleads guilty to killing homeless woman

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | 6:06 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD — A southwest Missouri man has pleaded guilty to killing a woman at a Springfield homeless camp.

Aaron M. Letterman was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2007 death of 44-year-old Tyla Rhodelander of Lebanon, Mo.

Jury selection was about to begin Tuesday when the 26-year-old Letterman surprised prosecutors with an Alford plea — in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to win a conviction.

Prosecutors say Letterman spent several hours in a tent with Rhodelander and struck her repeatedly in the head with a hatchet.

He'll be sentenced Sept. 4, and faces up to life in prison.

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