Man faces life for murder after initial confessions doubted

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man whose confessions to the 1998 murder of a Montana video store clerk were initially met with skepticism from authorities is now facing life in prison.

Zachary David O’Neill was due to appear Friday in state district court in the murder of 18-year-old Miranda Fenner and the rape and attempted murder of a second woman.

The 39-year-old pleaded guilty last month under a deal between prosecutors and the defense that calls for him to receive a life sentence.

O’Neill confessed to Fenner’s slaying as early as 2016 while at a psychiatric hospital in Spokane, Washington.

Authorities said he also made false claims that undermined his credibility.

Court documents show investigators continued to pursue other potential suspects until O’Neill again confessed in 2017 with details that corroborated his guilt.

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