A Junction City man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first degree murder in a last-minute agreement Friday, according to Assistant Riley County Attorney Kendra Lewison.

Steven Meredith, 33, had been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy, stemming from the October 2017 death of 48-year-old Carrie Jones.

An eight-day jury trial had been slated to begin Monday.

Lewison said the state agreed it would seek a lesser sentence of 20 years, or 240 months, in prison and Meredith would be allowed to ask for a lesser sentence of no less than 15 years.

Lewison said both counsels were working on final preparations Friday for the trial when Meredith initiated the plea negotiations. He had previously turned down a deal in June.

Prosecutors said that Meredith killed Jones because she worked as a confidential informant for police and believed she would provide information about him in a drug case in which he was later convicted.

During a preliminary hearing in January, witnesses testified Meredith told them he had shot Jones around the time reports revealed Jones had been killed. Hunters later found Jones’ body in a field in rural southern Riley County.

Lewison said now the state could focus on potentially pursuing a conspiracy charge against Bobbie Jo Long, who witnesses said accompanied Meredith before and during the events of Jones’ death.

“Our attention will turn toward deciding whether we have enough to charge her or what further investigation might need to be done,” Lewison said. “It’s not uncommon to charge a co-defendant one at a time because sometimes that helps with some of the evidence and issues that could arise if you charge two people at the same time.”

Lewison added that Meredith’s sister, Samantha Bland, had also pleaded no contest to intimidation of a witness related to a person who testified at Meredith’s preliminary hearing. She was placed under probation and released back to Texas, where she resides.

A sentencing for Meredith is scheduled for Sept. 23 at the Riley County Courthouse.

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