PENDLETON — A 23-year-old man pleaded guilty to killing an Oregon corrections officer while stealing the officer’s pickup truck, as part of a plea deal that will spare him the death penalty.
The prosecution says Joshua Charles Weeks faces at least 30 years in prison for the aggravated murder charge. A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin July 29, the East Oregonian reported.
Weeks is accused of stabbing Buddy Ray Herron, 42, after Herron stopped a few miles outside Pendleton to offer roadside help on a November night in 2011.
Herron was headed from his home in the small Eastern Oregon town Helix to work at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution.
Weeks was arrested after a chase ended when he rolled the truck in a farm field.
In court Monday at Hermiston, Weeks was cuffed, shackled and clad in a faded yellow jailhouse jumper.
Judge Dan Hill asked him how he felt.
“Very nervous,” Weeks said.
Hill described the case against him and asked Weeks: “Is that in fact what you did?”
“Yes it is, your honor,” Weeks answered. Then he pleaded guilty.
His parents and relatives have said Weeks used methamphetamine and had a troubled past that included years in foster care and a failure to complete a high school equivalency course.