PUEBLO, Colo. - A man accused of murdering three people he was living with told a courtroom full of the victims' friends and relatives that he killed them.
Harry Mapps, 60, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder Thursday for the deaths of Kim Tuttle, 55; Reginald Tuttle, 51; and Dawn Roderick, 33. Mapps killed the family at their home in Rye on Nov. 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving.
When District Judge William Alexander asked Mapps why he pleaded guilty, Mapps said, "I caused these people's deaths."
Alexander replied, "Mr. Mapps, you took the most precious thing in the world: family." Alexander then described Mapps' actions as senseless and evil.
After Mapps pleaded guilty, three members of the victims' family spoke in the courtroom, including Dawn Roderick's widower, Mark Roderick. He described the toll his wife's death has taken on the family, including his son Logan, 12.
Logan told the judge it has been difficult to focus at school since his mother was murdered. The Tuttles' son, Toby Barnes, also addressed the judge. He talked about uprooting his family from Tennessee to live in Colorado and the struggle it has been for his family.
By pleading guilty, Mapps avoided the death penalty. Mark Roderick told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that while he wanted "an eye for an eye," he wanted to do what was best for his children. He didn't want them to suffer through a trial and have to listen to the details that would have been shared.
The district attorney for the Tenth Judicial District, Jeff Chostner, said the family's disapproval of the death penalty was the main reason his office did not pursue it.
"It's very difficult for the state to argue to a jury or a judge to put an individual to death if the family's not in favor of it and while of course the state has an interest in it, I think the fact, the decider in the case, would be more of the opinion to follow what the family's wishes are," Chostner said.
Mapps is 60 years old. Chostner said that, too, weighed on his mind in regards to the death penalty. "In Colorado, a death penalty appellate process will take 15 to 20 years, so there's a good possibility that Mr. Mapps would not be alive at the time the death penalty would be available to him."
According to an arrest affidavit for Mapps obtained by KRDO NewsChannel 13 in January 2014, Mapps was about to be kicked out of the victims' home. He had been living with them after his estranged wife, Sandy Mapps, kicked him out of their Texas home. The affidavit stated that the victims were dead for at least five hours before their house was set on fire.
Mapps will spend the rest of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole. He will serve three consecutive life sentences.