- Associated Press - Monday, December 21, 2015

PRECOTT, Ariz. (AP) - A man charged in the 2012 stabbing death of a Chino Valley man will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Prescott Daily Courier reports (https://bit.ly/1Pf12kz) that 26-year-old James Rankin-McKnight pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in order to avoid the death penalty.

At his sentencing late last week, Rankin-McKnight gave a brief statement apologizing to the family of Kim Cotter.

Rankin-McKnight’s defense attorney says drug use drove his behavior.

Police say the 55-year-old Cotter was found dead in a “brutal” attack in November 2012.

Investigators arrested Rankin-McKnight and 23-year-old Ryan Skinner.

Both men lived in a unit adjoining Cotter’s home.

A search warrant turned up evidence police said link them to the attack.

Charges of murder, burglary and evidence tampering were dismissed against Skinner.

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Information from: The Daily Courier, https://www.dcourier.com

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