Metro Phoenix man pleads guilty in grandmother's killing
PHOENIX -- A Goodyear man accused of killing his grandmother over strict curfew rules and how much she charged him for rent has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Maricopa County prosecutors said 40-year-old Jason Eric Howell also pleaded guilty Friday to child abuse and aggravated assault charges.
Sentencing is set for July 1.
Howell led authorities to the desert about 75 miles southwest of Phoenix where 78-year-old Helen Jean Lee's body was found last Nov. 2.
Prosecutors said Howell beat his grandmother with a shovel before slitting her throat. He was facing first-degree murder.
Howell allegedly stole an SUV idling outside a Chandler elementary school last Oct. 30 with a 12-year-old girl inside. The girl escaped; an ensuing chase ended when Howell rammed an officer's patrol car.