A Lawrence man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for his role in the 2006 shooting death of hip-hop artist Anthony Vital.
Major C. Edwards Jr., 30, entered the plea Friday morning in Douglas County District Court. Edwards was scheduled to go to trial in May on a first-degree murder charge. Co-defendant Durrell A. Jones, 24, of Kansas City, Kan., still faces a first-degree murder trial in May in the case.
During a 2008 preliminary hearing for both men, prosecutors presented several witnesses whose testimony tied the defendants to a handgun used to kill Vital, 28.
Vital’s body was found in October 2006 west of Lawrence, and family members said Vital was with Edwards the night before his body was found.
Two jailmates had testified that Edwards confessed the murder to them while he was in federal custody in another case. Weeks after Vital’s body was found, authorities arrested Edwards on a federal warrant for weapons charges in Mississippi.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in 2008 to possessing a sawed-off shotgun. After that case was complete, Douglas County prosecutors filed charges for Vital’s murder against the two men.
Prosecutors said little about the plea on Friday, except to commend Douglas County Sheriff’s detectives for their work in the investigation.
“The case has been considered ongoing since 2006 and remains ongoing,” Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said in a statement.
Amy McGowan, a chief assistant district attorney, said she could not comment when asked if Edwards could be called as a witness during Jones’ trial.
Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild will sentence Edwards April 20. According to Branson’s office, Edwards faces 18 years in prison.