ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - Craig Stanford pleaded guilty to several charges after taking the stand Monday morning -- including the murder of two men nearly two years
ago -- in exchange for the state taking the death penalty off the table.
"That was like reliving that day, kind of still breaks my heart," Aaron Lavers' uncle Tim Lavers said.
On Monday, Stanford told the court what happened that day back in May 2016 when Aaron Lavers and Anthony Rogers were found shot to death in their apartment - just days after police confronted Stanford about items stolen from their home.
"It's out there and now that he said it out loud and to other people, he knows that he's done it," Lavers' sister Ashley Robinson said.
District Attorney Craig Ladd told Stanford if he pleaded guilty and told authorities where the murder weapon was, they would no longer seek the death penalty.
Sunday night Stanford's lawyer told authorities the weapon, a 9 millimeter gun belonging to Aaron Lavers, was buried in a backyard of a vacant home next to where Stanford was living at the time.
Stanford pleaded guilty to second degree burglary, concealing stolen property, felony possession of a firearm and two counts of first degree murder.
"I'm glad that he ultimately gave up the weapon so now I know it's not going to be out there for someone else to get a hold of and commit a crime with," Tim Lavers said. "He did the right thing."
Relatives we spoke to tell us they agreed to the deal because they wanted Stanford to admit he killed their loved ones - something they didn't want his family to have to face.
"I can't condone a mother losing a child the way my mother lost her son," Robinson said. "It's not right and his mom doesn't deserve that because she didn't have a part in this. She's just as much of a victim as we are."
"He's going to have a long time to think about what he did and he's the one that is going to have to live with it for the rest of his life," Tim Lavers said. "We are going to try healing, it's going to be hard to heal - we will always have him in our memories."
The family says they thank the officers and Ladd for the work done during the trial and believe the evidence presented in court caused Stanford to admit to the murders.
Ladd said Stanford will now face life in prison but what is left to be decided is if he will be eligible for parole and if so, when.
That sentencing will be determined by a judge on March 7.