Columbus man pleads guilty to 2012 Lakebottom murder - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Columbus man pleads guilty to 2012 Lakebottom murder

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COLUMBUS, GA - The man accused of fatally stabbing his friend in his Lakebottom home last year enters a guilty plea.

Mark Merritt pleaded guilty Friday to murder and armed robbery.

Officials say 53-year-old Michael Crowley was helping Merritt get back on his feet after he was released from an Atlanta jail, but when he asked Merritt to leave his home, things turned deadly.

Crowley was stabbed 14 times using three different knives. Merritt initially told police the murder was self defense, after Crowley made a racial slur against him.

Crowley's family says today finally set the record straight.

"The fact he played the race card that was very insulting because my brother was not prejudiced at all. Our brother, Michael, was dedicated to helping those in need, the homeless who had nowhere else to go, rejected by their family and friends. Michael worked to help them find work and develop relationships in the community," Crowley's sister says.

Merritt was sentenced to life in prison with the chance for parole in 30 years. If he decided to go to trial and had been found guilty by a jury, he wouldn't have been eligible for parole.

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