A Pine Bluff man charged with killing his wife and dumping her body in a manhole in Saline County in 2017 pleaded guilty to the crime Friday.

When asked by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr. if he was pleading guilty only because he was guilty, Molton Oglesby said, “yes.”

Oglesby, 62, had been charged with the Feb. 28 murder of Stephanie Turntine, 43, at a house at 4411 W. Fourth Ave. Her body was found on March 3 inside a manhole in Benton after a relative of Oglesby’s contacted police when he told that person what he had done.

“This was a case involving domestic violence,” Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said. “Many of our homicides in Jefferson County are the result of domestic violence, or drugs or firearms, but in this case, Ms. Turntine was beaten to death.”

Oglesby had originally been charged with capital murder, but in a deal worked out with prosecutors and attorney Cody Dennis of the Robinson Law firm, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with the sentences to run concurrently, or at the same time.

Hunter said prosecutors visited with Turntine’s family about the 40-year plea offer, and they agreed to it as a way to not only avoid a trial but also the possibility of an appeal by Oglesby.

Oglesby will have to serve 70 percent of the sentence — 28 years — before he is eligible to apply for parole and would be 90 old before he could apply.

“This was a very violent act that took the life of a daughter, a sister, a mother and a grandmother,” Hunter said.

Deputy Prosecutor Maxie Kizer represented the state during the Friday morning hearing and summarized the case for the court.

He said that members of Turntine’s family told police that Turntine and Oglesby had gotten into a verbal altercation the day before she went missing, and Oglesby had made threats toward her. She and Oglesby were last seen at an elementary school, where he worked as a janitor, at 12:30 p.m., and family members went to a mobile home on West Fourth Avenue that the couple shared when Turntine did not appear for work. He said Oglesby had previously told his employer that he was taking some time off.

When police arrived at the mobile home, they searched the outside, then opened the door and saw a large amount of blood in the hall and front room. After ensuring that there was no one injured inside, officers closed the door until they could get a search warrant.

Kizer said officers found “blood in every room” and the barrel of a rifle with “hair and blood on it.”

Oglesby’s vehicle was missing from the house, as was the license plate from Turntine’s vehicle. Kizer said Oglesby’s license was expired. That vehicle was later found in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, near New Orleans, and Kizer said blood found on the inside and outside of the trunk matched Turntine’s.

Oglesby contacted a relative, who later told police that Turntine’s body was in Benton near an old gym; the body was found after Oglesby had turned himself in. Kizer said Oglesby asked for an attorney and was not questioned.

The state medical examiner ruled that Turntine’s death was the result of multiple skull fractures.

Oglesby had been scheduled for trial later this month, and had he gone to trial and been convicted of capital murder, he would have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After admitting his guilt, Oglesby declined to make a statement to the court.