BUTLER (KDKA) – A man who entered a “no contest” plea Tuesday after being accused of murdering his father and stepmother was sentenced Wednesday morning.
According to KDKA-TV’s Harold Hayes, Colin Abbott was sentenced to 35 to 80 years in prison for the murders of Kenneth and Celeste Abbott in 2011.
Now, because he pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder, Abbott will not have to face the death penalty. Prosecutors were recommending to a judge a prison sentence of up to 80 years for 42-year-old Abbott.
Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger said they did not pursue a conviction on first-degree murder charges, which could have then led to Abbott being sentenced to death because they were keeping the taxpayers in mind.
“We weighed our options and we looked at this as a life sentence when we started the plea negotiations. Ultimately, we wanted this man off the streets for the rest of his life. Did we want to roll the dice and go to trial? We weren’t afraid of that whatsoever. We had a mountain of evidence against him. We were very confident that we would have gained convictions on two counts of murder in the first degree. However, what we’ve done is we’ve put this man behind bars again, for what we consider to be the rest of his life, and we saved Butler County and the taxpayers of Butler County probably hundreds of thousands of dollars to try this case and then fight appeals for years to come,” Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger said.
The defense attorney spoke on behalf of her client and said that he was sorry and wanted the families to know that the killings “were not planned.”
“For these events to have been planned, whatever you may think about him, whatever you may think about the facts, that would really make him a monster and that’s not Colin Abbott in his heart,” said defense attorney Wendy Williams to reporters after the sentencing.
But Goldinger countered, saying, “I don’t care if he admits he intended to do it or not. We got our conviction. We got our life sentence out of him, so like I said, the family can move forward.”
The plea bargain came days before the jury selection was about to start.
Investigators said the motive for the double murder was the younger Abbott’s greed. It was described as a gruesome murder, with Abbott allegedly dismembering the victims’ bodies and scattering them throughout the family’s estate in Brady Township.
He had earlier told relatives that his father and stepmother died in a fiery car crash in New Jersey.
In a victim impact statement, Eileen Whiting, Celeste Abbott’s sister, talked about the deception of the alleged New Jersey traffic accident that claimed her sister: “I talked to my sister on June 5, 2011. I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d talk to her. Then, I got the call about the car crash. But in July I learned the truth.”
Tom King, an attorney who represents Ken Abbott’s family in a civil action told reporters, “I think they’re glad that this part of it is over, that they’re not going to be put through this trial and they’ve had to live this every day since it happened.”
King says he will soon file papers to make sure Abbott will not be eligible for anything out of his father’s estate.