WACO, Texas (AP) – Former Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing teammate Patrick Dennehy.

Dotson, whose trial was scheduled to begin Monday, did not enter into a plea agreement with prosecutors. The 23-year-old faces from five years to life in prison on the murder conviction. Sentencing was set for June 15.

Dotson did not speak during the brief hearing other than one-word answers to questions from state District Judge Ralph Strother.

Dennehy, 21, had been missing about six weeks when his body was found in a field a few miles from the Baylor campus in July 2003. He had been shot twice in the head.

McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest said he was surprised that Dotson pleaded guilty without the promise of a reduced sentence from prosecutors.

“It’s a good resolution,” Segrest said. “There is no question as to guilt.”

Segrest said for months he and defense attorneys had informal plea discussions, but he never made an offer because he wasn’t sure how many years would be enough.

Defense attorney Russ Hunt Sr. declined Wednesday to discuss why Dotson pleaded guilty without a sentencing agreement but said he was confident the judge would impose a fair sentence. Hunt said Dotson was aware of the penalty he faces.

“He has been very, very frightened at the prospect of going to trial,” Hunt said.

Dennehy’s death sparked a scandal in the Baylor basketball program that led to the resignations of head coach Dave Bliss.

and athletic director Tom Stanton and self-imposed sanctions that included a ban from postseason competition in 2003-04.

A Baylor investigation in the wake of Dennehy’s death discovered that Bliss improperly paid up to $40,000 in tuition for two players, including Dennehy; the coaching staff didn’t report failed drug tests by athletes; and Bliss lied to investigators in trying to cover up his misdeeds.

A few days before Dennehy’s body was found, Dotson was arrested at his home in Maryland after calling authorities saying he was hearing voices and needed help. Authorities said he confessed to killing Dennehy but have never revealed a motive.

He was charged with murder and faced a maximum of life in prison.

Dotson was ruled incompetent to stand trial last fall and was sent to a mental hospital until earlier this year. A psychiatrist there said Dotson appeared to be faking some of his symptoms.

Baylor interim president William D. Underwood said Dotson’s plea “brings us a step closer to concluding what has been a painful period” for the school.

“I pray that this will bring some closure to the Brabazon and Dennehy families, who have suffered the most from this tragedy,” Underwood said in a statement. “Our prayers also go out to Carlton Dotson’s family members, who have endured a different, but no less painful ordeal.”

Melissa Kethley, who filed for divorce from Dotson last year after two years of marriage, was too upset to comment, said her mother Pam Bayuk. Dotson has remained in touch with family members, calling as recently as Tuesday, but has never discussed the case with them, Bayuk said.

Valorie Brabazon, Dennehy’s mother, said she just found out about the plea and did not know any details.

“I don’t feel good about this whole thing,” Brabazon said by phone from the Seattle area.


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