Breckenridge Texan

Sullivan pleads guilty to capital murder, sentenced to life in prison without parole

Sullivan pleads guilty to capital murder, sentenced to life in prison without parole
November 03
13:02 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Paxton Lee Sullivan pleaded guilty to capital murder at a hearing this morning, Wednesday, Nov. 3, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders of his parents, Terry and Mitchel Sullivan, who were killed in December 2018.

Paxton Sullivan attended the hearing via live video teleconferencing from the Stephens County Jail. The hearing was presided over by 90th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Bristow in the district courtroom at the Stephens County Courthouse. Sullivan had two attorneys from the regional public defenders office for capital cases, Susan Anderson, who was present in the courtroom, and Mark Hendrickson, who was with Sullivan on video. Also on the teleconference video were three of Sullivan’s siblings.

A Stephens County Grand Jury had returned an indictment in the capital murder case, and Bristow confirmed with Sullivan and his attorneys that Sullivan understood the charges and agreed to waive his Fifth Amendment right and his right to appeal by pleading guilty.

On Dec. 14, 2018, Terry and Mitchel Sullivan were found dead in their Breckenridge home. A short time later, their son, Paxton Sullivan, was arrested at gunpoint on family property north of town.

After today’s hearing, Stephens County District Attorney Dee Peavy said that Sullivan had been experiencing some mental health issues and was in the Stephens County Jail for two years before being admitted to a maximum security mental health facility in Vernon in December 2020. Once at the facility, he was treated with medication and his mental health was restored, she said.

In addition to the mental health evaluation that had been submitted to the court, Bristow confirmed with Anderson that Sullivan seemed rational and that he understood what was happening when she talked to him.

After Sullivan officially pleaded guilty to the charge, Bristow announced that Sullivan had been found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.  The sentence also included $290 in court costs and $25 in reimbursement, but Peavy agreed to allow Sullivan to handle those costs with time in jail rather than paying the money.

After the sentencing, Sullivan’s siblings who were on the teleconferencing video each made brief impact statements. They told Sullivan that they have forgiven him and that they love him and pray for him.

The plea deal assured Sullivan of a life sentence, rather than a possible death penalty, and it avoided a capital murder trial.

“I just wanted to be able to give the family some closure,” Peavy said.

 

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Sheriff Kevin Roach talks to the Stephens County Jail prior to the hearing for Paxton Lee Sullivan, who appeared at the hearing via teleconferencing video. Sullivan pleaded guilty to capital murder in the deaths of his parents, Terry and Mitchel Sullivan. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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