HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Maryland man pleaded guilty to several charges including murder for a 2016 triple homicide in Franklin County. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania says the man co-conspired with 10 other people to kill a woman cooperating with law enforcement.
"I'm very emotional today," said Joella Cole, the widow of Brandon Cole who was murdered.
She fought back tears on a day she never thought would come. Her late husband was one of the three victims found tied up and shot in a barn in Montgomery Township, Franklin County in June 2016.
"Having to tell our children," said Cole. "That was the worst thing I've ever had to do in my life."
Thursday, the first guilty plea in the case was made by Christopher Johnson, of Baltimore. Instead of facing the death penalty, Johnson will now serve eight consecutive life sentences for his role in killing Wendy Chaney, Phillip Jackson, and Brandon Cole in 2016.
"The fact that someone is finally willing to admit something that they did," said Cole. "And take responsibility for their actions is definitely a step in the right direction."
U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Dave Freed says, 10 other co-conspirators from Baltimore and Hagerstown, Maryland sought out to kill Chaney for $20,000 because she had been cooperating with law enforcement in Maryland about the groups' drug trafficking activities.
"Johnson in court today admitted the mission was to kill Wendy Chaney for the reasons stated earlier that she was an informant," said Freed. "And Jackson and Cole were murder so there would be no witnesses."
The 10 co-conspirators in this case are facing charges of murder, drug trafficking and obstruction of justice. None of them have yet to enter a plea.