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Man Pleads Guilty to Lottery Winner Murder

17 May 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Missouri -- As reported by the Associated Press: "A young man who had been expected to withdraw his earlier guilty plea in the Christmas Day killing of a lottery winner decided instead to accept the state's plea bargain.

"Jeffrey Williamson, 18, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and Greene County Circuit Judge Henry Westbrooke sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

"Williamson also got concurrent sentences of 10 years for armed criminal action, 15 years for first-degree burglary and seven years for first-degree tampering.

"…Co-defendant Eugene Claypool Jr., 21, was sentenced last October to life in prison for second-degree murder and he'll have to do 25 years before becoming eligible for parole.

"…The two men are convicted of killing Donald Hardwick, a 72-year-old invalid who had won a $1.7 million Missouri Lottery jackpot in 1998. He was slain at his home on Christmas Day 2000.

"Authorities said Williamson and Claypool broke into Hardwick's Springfield home searching for $10,000 they believed he had there.

"…Prosecutors say Williamson and Claypool searched the house for several hours before going into the room where Hardwick was sleeping.

"The feeble Hardwick, who couldn't walk without using a walker, awoke and authorities say Claypool tried to restrain him. Williamson reportedly held a couch cushion over the man's face while Claypool stabbed him multiple times in the chest and throat.

"A Bible was left on the victim's chest. When his wife, Edna, got up on Christmas morning she noticed a broken kitchen window. She went to tell her husband, who slept in a separate room, but found him dead…"

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