NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches woman avoided a life sentence Thursday, by pleading guilty to killing a man in April, accepting a 39-year prison sentence.
Erin Leann Belz, 27, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in District Judge Ed Klein's court. She had originally been charged with capital murder. Had she been convicted of that, she would have been sentenced to life without parole.
Belz was arrested along with Randy Lee Ellinwood, 32, in April after being connected to the murder of Gilbert Thibodeaux Jr., 32, of Nacogdoches.
Nacogdoches Police arrested the pair after finding the body of Thibodeaux in the back of a pickup at Walgreen's on April 9. Police connected them to the truck and arrested them at a residence in the 300 block of Myrtle Street.
Officers were called the night of April 9 to a suspicious person call at Nacogdoches Floral Company on North Street. The caller said a man and woman were seen dumping something in a dumpster of the business and leaving in a pickup truck. Officers found items with blood on them and began searching for the suspect truck.
According to Sgt. Greg Sowell, it appears Thibodeaux knew the two and went to the Myrtle Street address, where he was assaulted.