Three years after he first became a suspect, 27-year-old William Gene Myears pleaded guilty Oct. 13 for the murder of 21-year-old Erika Dalquist.
Appearing in Crow Wing County Court for a pretrial hearing, prosecuting and defense attorneys worked out an agreement that allowed Myears to plead guilty to second-degree unintentional murder in exchange for the dismissal of a second-degree intentional murder charge. That same day in court, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Myears reached an Alford plea agreement. An Alford plea allows a defendant to concede there's enough evidence for a jury to convict him or her. His trial was scheduled to begin Jan. 4, 2006.
Myears had been the suspect in Dalquist's murder since she disappeared Oct. 30, 2002, from downtown Brainerd. In January 2003, he was charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with her disappearance but those charges were dropped when authorities were unable to find Dalquist.
After 18 months of searches, Dalquist's remains were found May 15, 2004, in a shallow grave on property east of Brainerd owned by Myears' grandparents. Murder charges then were filed against Myears. An hour after he was profiled on the television show "America's Most Wanted," Myears was arrested June 5, 2004, while working at a carnival in Birmingham, Mich.
Myears was only housed in the Crow Wing County jail for about a month. Shortly after his arrest he became ill and was housed at a prison hospital in Oak Park Heights. He was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Myears is being housed at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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