McDaniel instead pleaded guilty to robbery, a Level 2 felony, Monday in Allen Superior Court. During the change of plea hearing, McDaniel said he and Richards went to the house to rob the three men of marijuana. "The gun accidentally went off," McDaniel told Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck. McDaniel's bullet struck Mekki, he said.
Artavius G. Richards, 20, was convicted last month on the three murder counts and the firearms enhancement. Richards originally went on trial in November, which resulted in a hung jury.
McDaniel's bullet that struck Mekki was not the fatal shot according to forensic evidence presented during Richards' trial. Indiana State Police lab technician Stacey Hartman testified 15 shell casings came from a 9-mm handgun while one shell casing came from a .380-caliber handgun, indicating two handguns were used in the commission of the crime.
Throughout the hearing, McDaniel's responses were, "Yes, sir, your honor," or "no, sir, your honor." When Surbeck asked him how he pleaded to robbery, McDaniel said, "I plead guilty, your honor."
Under terms of the open, or cap, plea agreement, McDaniel faces no more than 20 years of executed time for the robbery. The advisory sentence is 10 years to 30 years.
Adam Mekki's father, Kamal Kuku, said he was pleased with McDaniel's guilty plea because he believed McDaniel shot by accident, whereas Richards shot more than 15 rounds into the three victims' head execution-style.
Steve Godfrey, chief counsel for the Allen County Prosecutor's Office, said members of the three families were 100 percent behind the plea. "If they weren't, we wouldn't have done it."
Sentencing takes place April 10 before Surbeck.