CHICAGO (Reuters) - A confessed serial killer pleaded guilty in an Indiana court on Friday to the strangulation deaths of seven women as part of a plea agreement that allows him to avoid the death penalty.
Darren Vann, 47, will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for each of seven counts of murder, after agreeing to plead guilty. He will serve the seven life sentences concurrently.
Prosecutors had previously pursued death sentences but withdrew them after the victims’ families decided that they preferred that Vann spend the rest of his life in jail rather than be executed, Bernard Carter, Lake County prosecutor, said in a phone interview on Friday.
“They kind of felt like taking his life was the easy way out for him,” Carter said.
Vann had previously admitted to authorities that he strangled Afrika Hardy and killed six other women, before leading detectives to their bodies in Gary, Indiana, about 30 miles southeast of Chicago.
Each of the women’s deaths was ruled a homicide, with the cause of death as strangulation, according to court documents. Carter said that there was evidence that some of the women may have been prostitutes.
“We understand this (is) a difficult resolution for the families of the victims to have to live with, but it brings these matters to a finality that a death sentence might not have brought for 18 or more years,” Matthew Fech, an attorney for Vann, said in an email.
Vann will be sentenced on May 25 before Lake County Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas. He had been held in the county jail since his confession in October 2014.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Patrick Enright and James Dalgleish