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Driver In Deadly High-Speed Chase Pleads Guilty To Murder Charges

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HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — A Harnett County man accused of killing two women last summer while driving away from an alleged bank robbery attempt accepted a plea deal from prosecutors Tuesday that reduced the first-degree murder charges against him to second-degree murder charges.

Roame Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, one count of felony speeding to elude arrest, conspiracy to commit common law robbery and attempted common law robbery.

Authorities said Jackson was driving a car in a police chase that started after he and four other men allegedly tried to rob a bank in Erwin last August. Police said the car reached speeds up to 100 mph before it crashed into another car, killing Wanda Knox and her 17-year-old daughter, Shannon.

Jackson was sentenced to a minimum of 36 years and a maximum of 44 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to another attempted robbery charge that was pending against him from a previous attempt to rob a bank.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that another defendant in the case, John Kelly, also agreed to a plea deal. Kelly had planned to testify against Jackson, and in exchange for his testimony, the first-degree murder charge against him would be dismissed and he would plead guilty to attempted common law robbery. He was expected to formally render his plea later this month in Harnett County.

First-degree murder charges are still pending against three other men -- Gregory King, Jodie Steele and Stephen Swinton -- charged in the accident. No trial dates have been set.

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