Facing the death penalty for the 2004 killing of his parents, Blaine Ross pleaded no contest Thursday afternoon. Twelfth Judicial Circuit Judge Diana Moreland accepted his plea under the condition that he would spend his life in jail with no chance of parole.
"'I have taken something dear from you and I know this,' Ross continued. 'I don’t know what happened. I am sorry. There are more people involved. Michael Young. He killed my mom. I killed my dad. It’s not an excuse, but I was on cocaine and Xanax weeks before. But I didn’t man up and stop it.
“'I was manipulated by Erin,' Ross continued. 'It wasn’t my idea to kill my parents. I think about this every day of my life.'"
Erin Dodds was Ross's teenage girlfriend when his parents were bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat. Michael Young was a friend of his.
Ross was originally sentenced to death in 2007, but the Florida Supreme Court ordered a new trial in 2010 when his confession was thrown out after the high court ruled his rights had been violated.
"The deal would spare his life and put Ross back into the general population in prison, instead of in a solitary cell on Death Row.
"After Ross accused his friends of helping him plan and carry out the killings, Circuit Judge Diana Moreland reminded him that he could still change his mind and go forward with the trial.
"'Do you understand how willing I am to give you your trial? Beginning Monday if you want,' Moreland told him.
"Ross was also addressing his sister, Kim Sanford, who attended the hearing via video conference, when he replied, 'I do not want to put my family through another trial.'"
Ross, now 29, was also sentenced to 15 years for third-degree robbery in the case.