SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Timothy Clarence Smith Jr., who escaped from a jail in Rowan County on Saturday, is now headed to prison after pleading guilty to the 2016 murder of Amanda Smith.
According to the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, Amanda Smith's body was found along the 3000 block of Leonard Road around 6:30 a.m. in June 2016, by a man driving through the area.
Officials said there was a small fire still burning around the body, which was also burned.
The victim, later identified through several tattoos, was confirmed to be 33-year-old Amanda Kay Smith. The victim's home, along the 200 block of Honeysuckle Lane, was also found burned the same morning her body was discovered.
Investigators said the fire was intentionally set.
During their investigation, deputies determined the victim was last seen with Timothy Clarence Smith Jr. and Stephanie Hall. Both were named suspects in the killing of Amanda Smith and the arson at the victim's home.
In August 2017, Hall pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, second-degree arson and common law robbery. On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, common law robbery and second-degree arson.
On Tuesday Hall was also in court and given an additional 21-26 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge.
In court, Timothy Smith said he had to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. He told the victim's family in court that he didn't kill her and only participated in the cover up.
"I'm sorry, I really am," Smith told the family of Amanda Smith. "I have to plead guilty because they were going to put me on the death penalty. I didn't kill Amanda, whether you believe me or not. I did help try to cover it up."
"It was fake and it was a lie and it didn't affect me whatsoever," responded Amanda Smith's sister Amy French. "I really wanted to reply but I didn't think that was allowed. Best way to deal with that is just, if you don't have something nice to say, just don't comment at all."
On Saturday, Timothy Smith reportedly managed to escape from the Rowan County jail by jumping out of a second story window.
He was apprehended a short time later at Matika Villa on Gaskey Road following after a short foot chase with deputies. Officials said the charges he faced in connection with the escape were dismissed.
Smith will serve life in prison without parole.
Amanda Smith's sister said that she and other family members live in pain everyday due Amanda's murder.
"In every way, from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed, hardest thing in the world to deal with," French said.