Guilty plea halts Springfield double murder trial

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A Springfield man pleaded guilty in the middle of a double murder trial and will spend at least the next 18 years in prison.

Troy Allen Holder Jr., 27, stopped his jury trial short and agreed to plead guilty to two charges of murder with gun specifications.

Holder had faced charges of aggravated murder, murder and felony murder, and charges of aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability.

Holder was arrested by Springfield police one day after two Springfield men — 36-year-old Titus Lee Ford and 33-year-old Bryant Michael Lawson — were found shot and killed inside of an SUV that crashed on Pumphouse Road on Oct. 28.

“We were quite surprised,” Assistant Prosecutor Dan Driscoll said of the plea during the trial. “Throughout this process we have not had much in the way of plea negotiations.”

As part of the plea, Holder will spend life in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 years, according to court records.

If he had been convicted of all the charges in trial he could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole, Driscoll said.

Holder’s trial began Monday, with the state calling witnesses including the girlfriends of Ford and Lawson.

Witnesses on Tuesday included Springfield Police Division detectives. Prosecutors also showed a more than hour-long video of detectives interviewing Holder after his arrest.

During a lunch break in the trial, Holder’s attorney told prosecutors his client was interested in a plea.

Lawson’s family had said the trial was overwhelming for them.

Holder was accused of shooting the two men and robbing them of hundreds of dollars of cash, according to court records.

As deputies put Holder in handcuffs and took him from the courtroom, the families of the victims yelled “Bye, killer,” and “Bye, murderer.”

Holder told his family and friends who were also in the courtroom that he loved them as he was being led away.

The cooperation of families and witnesses with police and prosecutors helped build a strong case against Holder, Driscoll said.

“This case really shows the hard work that Springfield Police Division officers put in, the hard work from folks at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and willingness of family and victims to sit down and talk with us and work with us,” he said.

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