- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - An Ohio man avoided the death penalty on Friday when he pleaded guilty to aggravated murder charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for robbing and killing an elderly couple then burning their bodies.

Authorities say 30-year-old Robert Clark was the triggerman in the slayings of Doyle Chumney, 88, and his wife, Lillian, 79. The couple lived in Strasburg, a village about 77 miles south of Cleveland, when they were shot in their car last winter then were engulfed in flames when the vehicle was set on fire.

Clark triggered a nationwide manhunt after the slayings when he and two acquaintances from Canton went on a multi-state crime spree, robbing convenience stores at gunpoint. The trio were arrested Feb. 5 outside Kingman, Arizona, after a high-speed chase. After the sentencing Friday, an attorney for him declined to comment.

Clark and Jeffery Stewart, 21, were accused of breaking into the Chumneys’ home around midnight Jan. 21, binding them with duct tape and driving the couple in their car to a rural road in Coshocton County where Clark shot them and set the car ablaze.

Both men confessed to their roles in the slayings. Stewart told investigators that Lillian Chumney was still alive when he and Clark set the car on fire. Stewart has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges. He remains in Coshocton County jail on a $2 million bond. His charges don’t carry the death penalty.

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