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Murder suspect pleads guilty to manslaughter charge

[6/2/04]A Warren County man about to go on trial for murder Tuesday morning told the court he was guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to the maximum term in prison.

Alonzo Derell Blackmore, 24, was indicted in July 2003 in the shooting death of Mary Shelley, 32, in front of the home they shared at 75 Smith Road.

At the time of the shooting in March 2003, investigators said Blackmore and Shelley were arguing and Shelley was shot in the neck as she was sitting in the driver’s seat of her car, which was parked in front of the house.

Blackmore reportedly drove her to River Region Medical Center. He was arrested on aggravated assault charges as Shelley was being treated. The charges were upgraded to murder after she died two days later at University Medical Center in Jackson.

John Bullard, the assistant district attorney who was to prosecute the case, said Blackmore decided to plead guilty to manslaughter by culpable negligence, which is a lesser offense than murder, just before jury selection was to begin.

Warren County Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick sentenced Blackmore to the maximum term, 20 years in prison.

Bullard said the family of the victim approved of the plea bargain and said they were apparently thinking about the effect having to testify would have on Shelley’s four children, who are 8 to 11 years old. They were in the back seat of the car, witnessed the shooting of their mother and were scheduled to testify had the trial proceeded.

Following Blackmore’s arrest at the hospital, investigators recovered the 9mm pistol reportedly used in the shooting from Blackmore’s mother, Bullard said. The gun was matched to the bullet that passed through Shelley’s neck and lodged in the trunk of the car.

At the time of the shooting, Blackmore was on probation after pleading guilty in Adams County in 1998 to charges of accessory after the fact of burglary and grand larceny.