BROOKSVILLE — One of three men charged in a home invasion and murder in Masaryktown last year has struck a deal with prosecutors.
Robert Willoughby pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder, home invasion robbery while armed, and armed burglary. The 25-year-old Brooksville resident had been charged with first-degree murder along with Nicholas James Trammell, 21, and Richard Denard Harris, 25.
Willoughby's murder charge was reduced and his sentence will be capped in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors, said Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino.
"With the agreement of the victim's family and law enforcement, we came to this conclusion to strengthen the cases against the other two defendants," Magrino said.
Authorities say all three men entered 27-year-old Michael Pfeifer's home at 174 Grand Ave. about 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2011. Armed with an assault-style rifle, a shotgun and several handguns, they demanded money and drugs.
Pfeifer was shot in the knees trying to defend himself and died before emergency workers arrived. Another man in the house at the time, Cliff Kearney, suffered a blow to the head but survived and was able to give investigators a detailed account of what happened.
The evidence shows that Willoughby was in possession of a handgun but never fired it, and Trammell carried a 12-gauge shotgun and Harris an AK-47, Magrino said. Both the shotgun and rifle were fired twice, and rounds from both hit Pfeifer.
"(Willoughby) was in the bedroom trying to take a TV off the wall when the shootings occurred," Magrino said.
As part of the deal, Willoughby's total prison sentence will be at least 10 years and will not exceed 40 years.
If convicted by a jury, Willoughby faced a life sentence.
Trammell, of Spring Hill, has a status hearing set for next month.
Harris, of Brooksville, had a status hearing on Thursday. His next court date was unavailable Friday.
Reach Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (352) 848-1431. On Twitter: @TMarreroTimes and @HernandoTimes.