CHESTERTOWN, Md. (AP) â€” A man accused of shooting his two young children as they sat in their car seats and then blaming it on a carjacker pleaded guilty to murder Thursday.
Richard Spicknall, 28, pleaded guilty two counts each of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in a violent crime and dropped his insanity defense.
In return, prosecutors assured Spicknall they would not seek the death penalty. Instead, the deal provides consecutive life sentences without parole for each murder and consecutive 20 year-terms on the handgun charges.
Spicknall changed his plea in the second week of his trial for killing his 3-year-old daughter, Destiny, and 2-year-old son, Richard III, in September 1999. His decision came a day after a tape recording of his confession to the Maryland State Police was played in court.
On that tape, Spicknall says he pointed a gun at his children, said, ``I love you guys, I don't ever want to leave you,'' and then fired two shots. He and his wife, Lisa, were estranged at the time.
He was taking the children for a week's vacation at his parents' home in Ocean City, Md., when he killed them and sought to cover their death by saying his car, with them in it, was stolen and the carjacker threw him off a bridge.
But police said that story quickly fell apart under questioning. A crew of roofers showing up for work found the locked Jeep behind a house, the children still in their car seats.
Spicknall's son already was dead. His daughter later died in the hospital.
Prosecutors agreed to give Spicknall protection in prison because his life has been threatened. He will be sentenced Monday.