BEND, Ore. (AP) — Joshua Jokinen offered no explanation for swinging a shovel repeatedly and fatally clobbering a 78-year-old woman he had never met.
He offered no defense, either, and in a courtroom rarity, pleaded guilty without trying to cut a deal with prosecutors.
Jokinen appeared Wednesday before Judge Alta Brady in Bend to enter his plea to a murder charge in the death of Carolyn Burdick, who raised horses near the central Oregon town of Sisters.
"I just want to say I'm sorry to the family. I wish I had an explanation," he said. "I wish I knew why."
Burdick was killed in August, when Jokinen, his girlfriend and another man delivered a load of firewood to her, prosecutor John Char said.
Jokinen went inside with a shovel to clean the fireplace and was gone several minutes before returning to say that he needed a tarp, the prosecutor said.
"It's getting everywhere," the prosecutor quoted him as saying to his companions.
The companions thought Jokinen meant ash from the fireplace, Char said, but he meant the woman's blood.
The Bend Bulletin (http://bit.ly/VHL9wz) reported that Jokinen told the judge he read at a 12th-grade level and understood the consequences of his plea: life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. At that time, he would be 55.
Jokinen wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol, prosecutors said. His lawyer, Jacques DeKalb, said the evidence was overwhelming, and a psychological evaluation turned up nothing that could be used in a defense.
At the time of the killing, Jokinen was on post-release supervision from a 2006 conviction for assault that stemmed from beating a man with a trailer-hitch ball in an unprovoked attack. Before serving a six-year term for that conviction, he'd had methamphetamine, theft and weapons convictions.
Lawyers in the Burdick case said offering a guilty plea without some consideration from the prosecution is quite rare. DeKalb said it's the first time in 39 murder cases for him.
Oregon law requires a life sentence for murder, other than aggravated murder, which can carry the death penalty. Generally, murder defendants who don't get a plea deal go to trial and take their chances with a jury because, as Char put it, "they don't have much to lose."
Burdick's husband, Daniel Burdick, listened by telephone to the plea and sentencing. Char read a statement from him.
It urged Jokinen to find God and read: "I do not understand why he killed my wife. Everyone needs to be forgiven, as I, too, have been forgiven. I forgive you."
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com