UPATOI MURDER TRIAL: Second suspect pleads guilty ahead of trial

UPATOI MURDER TRIAL: Jury selection still underway; defense attorney motions for change in venue
Published: Jan. 30, 2018 at 3:47 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2018 at 8:37 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Jury selection continues in the trial of two men, Javarceay Tapley, and Rufus Burks charged in the brutal 2016 killings of a grandmother, son, and granddaughter in Upatoi.

The third defendant, Raheam Gibson agreed Monday to plead guilty, now, another defendant also joined in on that decision.

Javarceay Tapley entered a guilty plea on three counts of malice murder after hours of jury questioning by attorneys.

Raheam Gibson was the first to enter a guilty plea on Monday. The same day, Tapley, also first made a plea deal, but quickly withdrawing that motion.

Today, the prime suspect in the case finalized his decision. His attorney says it was a hard and emotional decision.

"Again, this is an emotional situation. It's something he had to make on his own, and he told me early, I don't want to put this family through this, I want to enter a plea, and he did," says Shevon Thomas, defense attorney for Tapley.

Both Tapley and Gibson will be sentenced once the trial is over.

Rufus Burks, the youngest of the defendants, is now the only defendant to stand trial for the murders of 54-year-old Gloria Short, her 17-year old son, Caleb Short and 10-year-old granddaughter Gianna Lindsey.

The trial is continuing with more jury selections. Attorneys believe it will take the remainder of the week to narrow the pool of over 100 people down.

Follow Sharifa Jackson for live Twitter coverage in the courtroom.

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