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Defendant In Pottawatomie County Murder Trial Changes Plea, Life

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Defendant James South not only changed his plea, but tried to change his life right in front of the court. Defendant James South not only changed his plea, but tried to change his life right in front of the court.
POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Oklahoma -

A man on trial for robbing and killing a Pottawatomie County man has a Christian conversion right in the middle of his trial.

The DA says it is something he has never witnessed before. Defendant James South not only changed his plea, but tried to change his life right in front of him. And both he and the victim's family says there's no doubt God had a hand in this.

"It was the craziest thing I have ever witnessed in my life," said Rich Rider, the murder victim's son.

He says he had no idea what to expect at the trial of his father's accused killer, but he says he never expected this.

"It was a God thing totally," said Rider.

South was accused of robbing and killing Rider's father Albert last October along with two other men.

10/9/2012 Related Story: Third Suspect Caught In Homicide Of Shooting Victim In Pott County

South had originally pled not guilty to pulling the trigger, but right before the closing arguments were set to begin in his case, he had a crisis of conscience, and went to the DA.

"He looked up at me and said Mr. Smothermon, I have been a bold face liar in this case - because I shot that man," said Richard Smothermon, the DA for Pottawatomie County. "I told him if that was true, and I knew it was, that he needed to enter a plea of guilty. And he needed to tell the family what happened to their husband and father, because they needed to know that."

South did change his plea to guilty and begged the family for forgiveness. And surprisingly, they gave it.

"South told me yesterday that he believes in his heart that one man had to die so another could live," said Rider. "Which means dad had to die, so South could find Christ in jail. And according to him, that's what happened."

And Rider says his father would have wanted it that way.

"He would have gladly taken that bullet, if he knew this would be the outcome," said Rider.

South still faces up to four life terms in this case. He will be sentenced in October.

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