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TN man accused of killing, dismembering 2 people pleads guilty, avoids death penalty

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A man accused of killing and dismembering two people will avoid the death penalty in a trial that nearly ended in a mistrial.

The Johnson City Press reports that 46-year-old Eric Azotea pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for life without parole in the 2015 death of 36-year-old Arthur Gibson Jr. and 22-year-old Amber Terrell. In addition to pleading guilty to charges related to attempting to break out of a jail, Azotea had pleaded guilty Tuesday to the abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Judge Stacy Street had taken action to stop a man's testimony when the witness referenced Azotea's prior criminal history, a prejudicial comment that could've merited a mistrial. Street says neither side asked him to declare a mistrial.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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