A Newton County, Arkansas man who was charged with capital murder last year has copped a plea of manslaughter for his crime.
William Ashworth was charged in the deaths of two roofers, Lee O' "Tilton" Housden III, and Timothy Ray Eddings. Housden and Eddings went missing in October of 2005, and the case was cold until a confidential informant contacted the FBI on September 11, 2007.
That informant told authorities that he helped move the men's bodies to the Mt. Shiloh area of Newton County, not far from where the two men were last seen roofing a house. The informant told cops that he stood by and watched as Ashworth doused their bodies with diesel and burned them.
According to an affidavit, Prosecutors say that Ashworth killed Housden and Eddings after they crept onto his property with a gas can and a shotgun to burn down his home and get even with him. Ashworth's attorney, Wendy Howerton, said that there was an ongoing tiff between Ashworth and Eddings over Eddings’ infatuation with Ashworth’s then 15-year-old daughter.
Judge Gordon Webb accepted the state's plea offer last Friday handing Ashworth a ten year sentence for the manslaughter of each man, two years in prison for each count of abuse of a corpse, and eight years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Those sentences are to run consecutively (one after the other.) The last charge is an enhancement charge; what that boils down to is that Ashworth will have to serve 80% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.