This article has been updated significantly since it was originally published on Dec. 19.
A 34-year-old man pleaded guilty to two Roswell murders Friday and was given two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Stephen Heller, of Marietta, shot Nicholas Farrell Abry and Spencer David Long, both 20, as the friends sat in a parked SUV.
Abry’s mother was standing nearby and witnessed it.
Deputy Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski was asked by defense if the families would consider the guilty plea deal, according to the victims’ families.
The family members said they accepted the deal largely in order to ensure a jury would not sentence Heller to life with a possibility of parole.
Heller had been facing the death penalty.
Fulton sheriff’s records showed Heller had been booked into the county jail nine times since 2001 for charges including misdemeanor battery/family violence, simple assault and willful obstruction of a law enforcement officer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2014.
Long was a student at Kennesaw State University who “loved playing fantasy football, video games, reading, concerts and movies,” according to his obituary.
Friends who commented on an online obituary remembered Abry as a “great kid with a huge heart” who played football and loved playing with dogs.
CORRECTION: This article was updated to correct an earlier version with the headline “Victims’ families request Fulton murderer be spared from death penalty.”
The article originally included an excerpt from a press release which stated:
“The Fulton County District Attorney’s office originally sought the Death Penalty in this case. However, family of both victims requested that Heller receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Subsequently, the D.A.’s office allowed Heller to enter a guilty plea.”
Howard and Dunikoski were unable to be reached Friday. The office was closed for the holiday weekend.
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