Pocatello man pleads guilty in wife's death
A 41-year-old Pocatello man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the May 2011 beating death of his estranged wife. The plea agreement calls for him to spend at least 20 years in prison.
Michael Lane Sparks pleaded guilty Wednesday in the death of Judith Rachel Johnson. Police say she was bludgeoned with a rifle and baseball bat.
Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman says under the agreement, both sides agree Sparks will be sentenced to 20 years fixed. Both sides can argue how long the indeterminate portion of the sentence should be.
Sentencing is set for March 12.
Hiedeman says Sparks told the judge he was so intoxicated that he didn't remember what happened.
Prosecutors initially charged Sparks with first-degree murder and said they planned to seek the death penalty.
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