2009-09-17 / Local & State

Pa. Man Pleads Guilty In 'Sleeper Hold' Death

NEW FREEDOM, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania man about to go on trial in the "sleeper hold'' death of a friend has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder.

Nineteen-year-old Ryan Shiflett of York County was sentenced to six to 12 years in state prison after entering the plea Friday in last year's death of Eric Cook.

Police said Shiflett had acknowledged choking Cook with the wrestling move during a night of drinking and drugs. He was arrested after Cook's body was found in Shrewsbury Township in April 2008. The defendant's family had maintained that the death was accidental.

Under the plea agreement, charges of first-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter were dismissed. Senior prosecutor Karen Comery said the commonwealth was concerned that Shiflett could be convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to time served, since he has been held without bail since his arrest.

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