Former Inn employee pleads guilty to murder, sexual abuse of co-worker found dead on Blue Ridge Pkwy

Former Inn employee pleads guilty to murder, sexual abuse of co-worker found dead on Blue Ridge Pkwy
According to the Department of Justice, 22-year-old Derek Shawn Pendergraft has pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death. (Source: pexels.com)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - A former Inn employee pleaded guilty to the murder and sexual abuse of a co-worker found on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2018.

According to the Department of Justice, 22-year-old Derek Shawn Pendergraft has pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death.

According to plea documents and Monday’s hearing, on July 24, 2018, Pendergraft, who worked at the Pisgah Inn, murdered his co-worker, Sara Ellis, during the perpetration of aggravated sexual abuse.

Officials say the murder happened on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Pendergraft’s plea agreement, which the court has accepted, provides that the defendant will receive a sentence of life in prison without any possibility of parole for his crimes.

Officials say Pendergraft remains in federal custody. A sentencing date has not been set.

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