BEDFORD, VA., AUG. 25 -- Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory in the slaying of her wealthy parents, decided to face the charges against her as "the first step on her part to absolve herself of her guilt," one of her attorneys, Hugh J.M. Jones III, said at a court hearing today.

Testimony at the hearing further illuminated the role of the 23-year-old heiress, who entered her surprise guilty pleas on Monday in the deaths of Derek Haysom, 72, a retired steel executive, and Nancy Haysom, 53. They were found stabbed to death in their Bedford County home in April 1985.

Elizabeth Haysom's boyfriend, Jens Soering, 20, is accused of the actual killings and is charged with capital murder, which is punishable by electrocution. He is fighting extradition from England, which does not extradite people who face a possible death penalty.

After today's hearing, Circuit Court Judge William Sweeney made a formal finding of guilty against Haysom and scheduled sentencing for Oct. 6. She could receive 20 years to life on each count.

Evidence presented by Commonwealth's Attorney James Updike, including testimony from two British police officers and numerous taped statements from Haysom, was designed to strengthen the argument for a life sentence, Updike said.

Defense attorney Jones quoted from a June 25 letter that Haysom sent to him regarding her defense. "There are principles at stake here that are more important to me than a verdict," Haysom wrote. "I do not wish to shirk or evade my charges with clever courtroom battles, nor do I wish to excuse or justify any role that I did play."

Her letter continued, "I must face the consequences of {my} actions and pay the penalty . . . . In my mind, the only acceptable route is to present myself to the court with my guilt in one hand and who I am in the other. If Judge Sweeney believes they balance each other, I am sure he will be fair."

Witnesses presented today by prosecutor Updike included Bedford County Investigator Ricky Gardner, who testified that Haysom admitted helping Soering dispose of bloody clothing and cleaning up a bloody car.

Gardner testified that Haysom told him, "At no point afterwards was I relieved they were dead. My first thought was at least Jens was alive. My next thought was to save our skins."

On Monday, police investigators said Haysom admitted concocting an alibi by buying theater tickets and two room-service meals in a Washington hotel while Soering drove a rental car to the Haysom home and killed her parents. There was conflicting testimony on whether she purchased the knife used to stab her parents to death.

Haysom and Soering, former University of Virginia honor students, were arrested in England and convicted of check fraud last year after touring Europe in the months after the slayings.

Updike said he has not given assurances to the British government that capital murder charges against Soering, the son of a West German diplomat, would not be pursued.