A Southern California man accused of raping and killing a 23-year-old woman, and then setting fire to her apartment with her son inside, stunned a Murrieta courtroom Friday by rejecting his plea deal and requesting a trial.
Marquise Denzell McGlown, 25, of Hemet, previously pleaded guilty to raping and killing Shanae Wesley and then setting fire to the apartment where her 3-year-old son was sleeping on the night of Oct. 31, 2012.
McGlown was slated to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday, but shocked the courtroom, and his own defense team, by claiming that he had been coerced into pleading guilty to first-degree murder, rape and other charges.
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"I was not in my right mind when I agreed to those terms," McGlown said at the sentencing hearing. "And I'm not accepting."
Wesley's son, Malakai, was rescued from the fire by a neighbor and is being raised by his grandmother, who, along with other family members, expressed outrage at the turn of events.
"There’s no doubt in anyone's mind that this man took Shanae's life," said Wesley’s mother, Monica. "He needs to be a man and admit to what he's done and accept the responsibilities."
Four of Wesley's family members had prepared to speak at the hearing about the pain McGlown had caused.
Now, they said they believe he is only trying to prolong that pain.
"It's an absolute mockery," said Wesley's aunt, Tania. "It's a game because there's no way he's going to win."
The judge removed McGlown’s defense team, and it remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to withdraw his plea.
In the meantime, Wesley’s mother said she still hopes that justice will be served for the man who killed her only child.
"This man doesn't deserve to walk out of a prison," she said. "He doesn't even deserve a pine box."