A Mesa man pleaded guilty Monday to killing five of his family members in 2002.
Under terms of a plea agreement announced by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, 46-year-old Kemp Horton would serve five consecutive life terms in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20.
Horton pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Tammi Meininger, 42; mother-in-law, Joyce Levi, 65; sister-in-law, Terri Borden, 45; brother-in-law, Mark Potter, 40; and stepson, Austin Potter, 3. The victims were found in the living room of their home on a county island in east Mesa.
Authorities said Horton and Meininger had been locked in a heated battle for custody of their 11-year-old daughter. The girl was at school when the shootings occurred and was not harmed. Horton claimed Mark Potter was the gunman.
Horton was scheduled to be tried on five counts of firstdegree murder last year but proceedings were postponed indefinitely while experts determined his competency to stand trial.
Prosecutors said Horton has spent most of the last year in a mental health program, and was recently restored to competency for plea or trial purposes. A message left with Horton’s attorney Monday was not returned.