FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - A man serving a life sentence could now walk free in a few years or sooner because of a paperwork mistake that drastically reduced his sentence.
Darrian Pye was convicted in the murder of Manon Freeman, who was killed in 2005. Freeman's sister says the murder was motivated by Pye's mistaken belief that Freeman stole his rims.
'I want to apologize for the pain and suffering," Pye said in court Monday. "I was young. I was dumb. My fault. I'm sorry (for) the part I played. Real selfish."
A jury convicted him in 2008 of felony murder and other charges. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole plus 25 years.
But now he could get out a lot sooner than that, because of mistakes on two documents, including a flawed verdict form. Those papers helped change his murder conviction into a lesser case, for which he could walk out of prison much sooner than he might have otherwise -- if he ever would have.
A court official said Pye wound up pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and robbery for a sentence of 20 to 40 -- with 20 years to be served in prison and the rest on probation.
"As a trial judge, it's totally at my feet. My error," Judge Craig Schwall said. "The alternative is a new trial, and he's been in prison 14 years. And I'm sure the state has told you of the problems with trying a case nearly two decades after the crime occurred."
Two others remain in prison for Freeman's murder.
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