MODESTO—A surprise plea change in the murder case of a California Highway Patrol officer came Monday after Columbus Allen, Jr. admitted guilt in the shooting death of Earl Scott in 2006.
Allen's lawyers approached the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office last week with an offer to plead guilty to several charges, including charges relating to the shooting death of CHP officer Earl Scott in 2006, in exchange for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
The District Attorney's office accepted Allen's plea deal Monday after consulting with Scott's family.
"While there may never be such a thing as 'closure' for the friends and family of Officer Scott, there will at least be finality to the criminal case," District Attorney Birgit Fladager said in a press release issued Monday. "There will be no decades-long appeal process for them to endure and constantly worry about the possibility of reversal."
Stanislaus County Judge Scott Steffen officially sentenced Allen to life without parole Monday. The judge also gave Allen an additional sentence of three years in prison for carrying a firearm as a convicted felon.
Officer Scott's family had an opportunity to address the court Monday. Scott's father declined to make a statement, while a statement by Scott's biological mother Judy Whitney was read aloud in court.
But it was Allen's admit of guilt that perhaps stood out the most Monday inside the Stanislaus County courtroom.
"I shot Officer Scott with the intent to kill," Allen said in a courtroom filled with law enforcement officers and officials, the Modesto Bee reports.
Allen shot and killed Officer Scott in February 2006 after the California Highway Patrolman attempted to perform a vehicle stop on a speeding car.