WEST CHESTER - Michael G. McGrory took a plea bargain to save his life Monday.
Now all he has to do is talk.
McGrory, 30, of the 600 block of West Schuylkill Road, Pottstown admitted his role in the November 2002 murders of Kerry Schadler and his wife Katherine, who was 22 weeks pregnant.
He pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder, one count of murder of an unborn child and one count of conspiracy to commit criminal homicide.
In exchange for McGrory's admission of guilt and his willingness to testify against codefendant Matthew Eshbach, the Commonwealth agreed not to seek the death penalty.
If he lives up to his end of the deal, he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
McGrory faces three consecutive life sentences and a concurrent 10- to 20-year sentence. He has no chance of parole
Common Pleas Court Judge Juan Sanchez spent more than half of the two-and-a-half-hour hearing reviewing the agreement before finally accepting the guilty plea.
Sanchez said, however, that he would not impose sentencing until after the Eshbach trial, which is scheduled for March.
He reminded McGrory, "This guilty plea hinges on your truthful and accurate testimony against Eshbach."
Sanchez, who is soon to leave for the federal bench, was meticulous in reviewing McGrory's rights and options as a defendant in a capitol murder case.
At one point, he told McGrory, "You have the right to roll the dice and put your fate in the hands of the citizens."
But McGrory stuck with the bargain arranged by court-appointed defense attorney, Elizabeth Ann Plasser, and District Attorney Joseph Carroll.
He expressed tearful remorse to the court and victims' family. "Nothing that comes to mind can make anything right about what I have done. I can't turn back time," he said. "I can only pray that God will forgive me and put peace in your hearts."
Relatives of the Schadlers said they were satisfied with the verdict. They had not ask the commonwealth to pursue the death penalty.
Elizabeth Richard, Katherine Schadler's mother, said that she wanted McGrory to suffer in prison. "We have to live with our loss for the rest of our lives, let him," she said. "I only have one picture of my granddaughter...and that's her ultrasound."
"I don't know what else to say. Nothing is going to bring my son or daughter- in-law back," said Kerry Schadler's mother, Karen Lupe. "I just miss them both," she told Sanchez between tears.
"There's really no good resolution to a situation like this," said Carroll after the verdict.
"We are pleased that McGrory doesn't walk the streets, but that doesn't make things right."
Carroll, who handled the case personally, said that initially he approached the plea bargain with "mixed feelings" because he felt that that a jury would bring the death penalty.
But he said, "We considered the families' wishes. It was important that the family did not have to go through the hearings."
Carroll said, "In a way, it is a death sentence. He (McGrory) just does not know when he will die."