Will serve life in prison without parole
A Rolla man accused of murdering Richard R. Finnell in early March of this year pleaded guilty Monday afternoon in Phelps County Circuit Court.
Circuit Judge William E. Hickle sentenced David Earl Lundin, 61, to life in prison without parole, following a recommendation by Phelps County Prosecutor John Beger.
“Lundin chose to plead guilty after we indicted,” Beger stated in a news release from the county prosecutor’s office.
“If the case went to trial, we would be seeking the death penalty. Given his age (61) we felt it was probable he would die in prison anyway before a death penalty could be imposed,” Beger said.
Lundin’s trial was expected to start Monday. He was 60 at the time of the incident.
As part of his plea, Lundin had to give up his right under the Missouri Supreme Court rules to challenge his conviction.
Additonally, lesser felony charges filed against Lundin were dismissed by the prosecution after Lundin pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, a Class A felony.
The other four charges dropped were armed criminal action, an unclassified felony; first-degree burglary, a Class B felony; unlawful possession of a firearm and theft/stealing, both Class C felonies.
Lundin led officers from several law enforcement agencies on a three-hour manhunt the night of March 6, 2014.
Finnell’s body was found at a residence in the 13000 block of Private Drive 7136, about one mile south of the Rolla city limits. Finnell was 57 years old.
According to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Finnell had apparently suffered a single gunshot wound to his chest.
Beger complimented the sheriff’s office, as well as the Rolla Police Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol, which responded to the scene of the murder and assisted with apprehending Lundin in the Winchester Drive area, where he was taken into custody without incident.
About 80 people from various emergency response and law enforcement agencies were involved in the search, according to the Rolla Police Department.
According to court records, an eyewitness, Myra Holt, told law enforcement officers that Lundin had entered her residence and waited for Finnell and her to return. When the two returned, there was a confrontation with Lundin, who then allegedly shot Finnell.
Holt and Finnell’s family members were in the courtroom at the time of Lundin’s plea Monday, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor’s office stated Holt “made a tearful statement to the court in which she said she had hoped to spend the rest of her life with Finnell.”
Lundin’s guilty plea Monday comes after a not guilty plea made May 21.
According to court records, Lundin has an “extensive criminal history, consisting of burglary, stealing, armed robbery and forcible rape.”
He is on Missouri’s registered sex offender list, and in 1988, he was convicted of first-degree robbery and sentenced to 20 years in the Department of Corrections.