A Pembroke man pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in two separate kidnappings of two Bryan County residents.
According to First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durham, Cecil Dewitt Nelson, 32, pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to commit kidnappings before Senior U.S. District Court Judge B. Avant Edenfield in Statesboro. Nelson faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Nelson’s guilty plea comes after Gary McDonald, 36, of Statesboro also pleaded guilty in July to conspiring with others to commit kidnappings.
The remaining defendant, Antonio Murray, 38, will go to trial next week. Durham said jury selection for the trial began Friday and opening statements will begin Monday.
All three men remain in custody. Durham said a sentencing date for Nelson and McDonald has not been scheduled because court will wait on a probation officer to give a presentence report.
The trio in January was charged with kidnapping two Bryan County residents, identified in court documents as “T.M.” and “W.D.,” and holding them for ransom.
According to evidence presented during the guilty plea and in an indictment in March, the three men were involved in two separate kidnappings.
The first incident occurred Dec. 1, 2011, when the men forcibly entered the Richmond Hill home of T.M. and abducted him at gunpoint, only to release him after a ransom of $19,000 was paid.
The second incident occurred on Jan. 12, when the men forcibly entered the home of Pembroke resident W.D. and abducted him at gunpoint, only to release him after ordering his wife to pay $250,000 in ransom.
Assistant United States Attorneys Brian T. Rafferty and Carlton R. Bourne Jr. are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.