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Man pleads guilty in 2001 Colonial Heights murder

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: May 18 2013 08:39:41 AM CDT
Updated On: May 17 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

Killer admits guilt in 2001 murder of a Colonial Heights business owner.

BLOUNTVILLE, Tn -

After nearly twelve years, and multiple court appearances,  there is an end to the August 21, 2001 murder of 81-year-old John Bussell.

Steve Rollins pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to two counts of felony murder, and one count of especially aggrivated robbery in the stabbing death of Bussell.

Rollins plea agreement is in lieu of the death penalty, a compromise according to Sullivan County DA Barry Staubus

 "The decision was made to plea this case to life, let him serve the rest of his time in prison and obtain closure in this case,"said Staubus.

Rollins was originally convicted in 2003 and sentenced to death. However, the virdict, and his sentence was thrown out, and Rollins was granted a new trial, set to being early in 2014

"I believe the appropriate sentence in this case would be death, but sometimes you have to do what you think, not what you want,"Staubus told News 5.

"Having given the fact that we spent avconsiderable amount of getting the death penalty and [having] it overturned and knowing the history of the death penalty in Tennseess...we came to the conclusion that it would be more than likly that a death penalty in this case would not be imposed, nor would he ever see death, "said Staubus.

Rollins will spend at least the next 51 years in jail before he is eligible for parole.  The court is granting credit against the 60 year life sentece for time Rollins has already spent in jail.