An Alexandria ninth-grader accused with two companions of robbing a beauty parlor and slaying a woman customer last March pleaded guilty yesterday to first degree murder in Alexandria Circuit Court.
James Augustus Fields Jr., 16, of 315 Oronoco St., also pleaded guilty to robbery and illegal use of a firearm during the two-hour hearing before Judge Wiley R. Wright.
Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney William Cowhig agreed to drop four of the seven charges against Fields in exchange for the guilty pleas. Additional robbery and firearms charges, and counts of breaking and entering and holding the victims against their will, were eliminated.
Fields and two companions, Roger Redfear, 16, and 15-year-old Odell Watkins, allegedly shot Muriel F. Hodan in the face during the holdup at the Parkway Beauty Salon at 1110 S. Washington St. on March 17. Hodan, 38, a teacher at Groveton Elementary School in Fairfax County, was having her hair shampooed when she was killed.
Judge Wright set sentencing for Aug. 15 for Fields, a pupil at George Washington School who, court records said, had attended only four days of school since last Semtepber.
The murder charge carries a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life. The robbery count penalty is five years and the firearm charge one year. Cowhig said outside the courtroom he would ask for a 21-year sentence, which would make Fields eligible for parole in about six years.
"Twenty one years is a long time," Cowhig said.
Redfear, who faces the same seven charges, is scheduled for a court appearance today, according to the commonwealth's attorney's office.
According to court papers, Fields Redfear and Watkins, all residents of the low-income housing project between Pendleton and Oronoco streets, entered the salon at 4 p.m. on March 17 and asked for money. They were given $50 by the store's owner. Hodan stood and pointed to her purse before she was shot.
The teen-agers were arrested a week later after police hypnotized a witness. Hodan's nephew, Peter Hodan, to get a better description for composite drawings of the suspects. Hodan was in the courtroom yesterday.
Also in the courtroom were Muriel Hodan's parents, who had flown in from Memphis, Tenn. "If justice is done. I'm satisfied." said her mother. Beatrice Smith, outside. "I think the whole thing was unfortunate. But you don't solve anything by being bitter or angry, this world is getting very hard to live in."