CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A central Pennsylvania man admitted Friday to fatally shooting his estranged wife, her new boyfriend and the man's mother in a plea deal that spared him the death penalty and angered the victims' relatives.
Kevin Matthew Cleeves, 36, apologized to the families of his victims at the end of the proceedings in Franklin County court.
"I completely understand why most of you hate me," he said, facing them. "I'm so very sorry for what I did. I wish I could express it more than I can."
Several family members told Judge Shawn Meyers they were unhappy with the plea deal, noting that prosecutor Matthew Fogal had previously stated he would seek the death penalty.
"The court failed miserably, because the scales of justice are clearly out of balance here," said William Aubele of Pittsburgh, the brother of victim Linda Holma.
Mr. Fogal had no immediate comment afterward.
Cleeves shot Holma, Brandi Cleeves and Luke Santucci in July, grabbed his 4-year-old daughter from a parked vehicle and then fled to Ohio, where he was captured. Police have said he and Brandi Cleeves had been in a bitter custody dispute.
Cleeves, a support technician at a potato chip company, was captured a day after the July 27 shootings near Youngstown, and the child was unharmed. Police said Cleeves confessed in a phone call before he was caught.
Police say Cleeves told them he killed the three after Santucci, 29, told him to leave the property, where he lived with his mother.
Santucci and Brandi Cleeves, 25, met while working together at a restaurant in Chambersburg and had been dating a few months. Holma, 55, was a hospital nurse.
First Published May 10, 2013 8:15 AM