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Man pleads guilty in 2014 Virginia slaying

A 44-year-old Nett Lake man pleaded guilty Monday in the 2014 slaying of Harley Jacka in Virginia. Anthony James Isham entered the plea to a charge of intentional second-degree murder. He is the fourth and final defendant to admit to his role in ...

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Anthony James Isham

A 44-year-old Nett Lake man pleaded guilty Monday in the 2014 slaying of Harley Jacka in Virginia.

Anthony James Isham entered the plea to a charge of intentional second-degree murder. He is the fourth and final defendant to admit to his role in the stabbing death.

Isham faces a guideline prison term of slightly more than 30 years when he appears for sentencing before 6th Judicial District Judge James Florey on Dec. 19.

Isham accepted the plea agreement with the St. Louis County Attorney's Office at a Monday hearing in Virginia that had originally been scheduled to argue his motion for a change of venue and challenge the admissibility of his statements to law enforcement. Isham was facing a premeditated first-degree murder charge, under which he would have faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

Jacka, 28, was found dead on April 29, 2014, in an apartment at 207 First St. in Virginia. An autopsy found he had been stabbed 15 times in the head, face, neck and chest. Four knives were found at the scene, according to court documents.

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The case took an unexpected twist in 2015 when Janessa Lynn Peters came forward to confess that she had arranged Jacka's murder. In interviews with police and in court testimony, she said she was having trouble ending a relationship with Jacka and asked Bartholamy Jake Drift to kill him. She also said that Isham and his cousin, John Edward Isham, "probably jumped in" on the killing.

Drift confirmed that Peters asked him to kill Jacka but testified that it was Anthony Isham who started the incident. He said John Isham had left the apartment by that time and was not involved in the stabbing.

Peters and Drift both pleaded guilty to murder charges, while John Isham pleaded guilty to aiding an offender after the fact.

The case took another unusual turn this spring, when Anthony Isham's public defenders asked to be discharged from the case, saying they were threatened by their client.

The attorneys, Kevin Cornwell and Kimberly Corradi, testified that Isham became "hostile" during a March strategy meeting at the Virginia courthouse, stating that there would be "repercussions " and that "things can happen from behind bars" if the case was not handled to his liking.

Florey found that Isham had engaged in "extremely serious misconduct" and granted the attorneys' request to be taken off the case, but said Isham was still entitled to counsel under the Sixth Amendment.

Kassius Benson, a Minneapolis attorney, was later appointed by the state public defender's office to represent Isham.

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