- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WILLITS, Calif. (AP) - A Northern California man accused of killing his 84-year-old grandfather by dragging him behind a pickup truck for nearly six miles has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

The Ukiah Daily Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1t5CAb4 ) that 24-year-old Kenneth Wilkinson entered his plea in Mendocino County Superior Court on Monday, just as jury selection was set to begin. In return for his plea, prosecutors dropped a special circumstance of torture.

Authorities were called to a Willits-area home last March after family members reported Richard Mel Wilkinson missing. Deputies ultimately discovered a trail of blood and body parts leading to his body, which was found in a ravine.

Public Defender Linda Thompson has said the younger Wilkinson was impaired by drugs and suffered from mental health problems.

Wilkinson is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9.

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Information from: DAILY JOURNAL, https://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/

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