BLOUNTVILLE — A Virginia man who had his death sentence overturned in the 2001 murder of a Colonial Heights bait shop owner will now serve life with the possibility of parole following a guilty plea hearing Friday afternoon in Sullivan County Criminal Court.
Steven James Rollins, 49, pleaded guilty to premeditated first-degree murder, felony first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery in connection with the August 2001 stabbing death of 81-year-old James T. Bussell at his Fisherman's Paradise bait shop and restaurant in Colonial Heights.
Authorities said Bussell was stabbed 27 or 28 times, with the fatal blow being delivered to his neck.
Under the written plea agreement, Rollins will serve his life sentence on the murder charges and 40 years for the robbery charge. All sentences will be served concurrently.
Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said Rollins would not be eligible for parole until he was at least 88.
A Sullivan County jury originally convicted Rollins in 2003 and sentenced him to death by lethal injection on the murder charges and 60 years on the robbery count.
In August 2012, the Knoxville division of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee overturned Rollins' convictions and granted a new trial upon consideration of his appeal of a local judge's decision to overturn the death penalty and grant a new sentencing hearing — but not a new trial — back in 2010.
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