SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - The man accused of murdering Matthew Holt accepted a plea deal Wednesday.
Holt was found murdered in his car in South Salt Lake on Easter Sunday. Jeffery Shepherd was charged with aggravated murder and other crimes related to the incident.
In court Wednesday, Shepherd's attorney told the judge they accepted the plea offer which reduces the crime from aggravated murder to just murder. The other charges were also dismissed.
Shepherd was facing the possibility of a death sentence if he was found guilty. This deal spares him of that, but he could still spend up to 15 years to life in prison.
It took investigators several weeks to identify a suspect after Holt was murdered, but surveillance video gave detecitves the first clue.
Holt was well known among hair dressers in south Salt Lake County.
"It's never going to be the same without Matt," said Megan Oviatt a close friend of Holt.
For nearly two decades, Holt and Oviatt were business associates at several hair salons in the south end of Salt Lake County. Currently they were at Image Studios in Draper. Oviatt remains close to Matt Holt's family. She said his parents were aware of the plea bargain and signed off on it.
"In talking with Matt's parents that he was going to plead guilty, Matt's parents were very happy with that outcome as well because none of us wanted to go through that trial process," said Oviatt.
Sheperd's attorney told the judge Wednesday that they accepted the plea offer. But it won't become official until Shepherd's next court date October 20.
"I hope this person knows that he didn't just take someone from this earth, he took a remarkable person who put others needs before his own," said Oviatt.
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