Mykel Whitehead, a 28-year-old Huntington man, pleaded guilty to the murder of 49-year-old Joseph Williams on Wednesday. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Angelina County Sheriff’s deputies found Williams’ body with numerous contusions and bruises after being dispatched to Guy York Road in August 2019, according to the affidavit for Whitehead’s arrest.

Whitehead was facing 25 years to life in prison and was a habitual offender, according to prosecuting attorney Stephanie Stroud. He will be up for parole after half his time is served, she said.

Authorities arrested four others in relation to Williams’ murder: Kerry Ann Welch, 31; Linda Cook, 76; Shawn Buckner, 54; and Leah Tudor, 31.

Welch pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence in June 2021 and the murder charge against her was dismissed, court records indicate.

Cook and Tudor both pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence with the intent to impair; Tudor was sentenced to 18 years in prison and Cook was sentenced to 10 years deferred probation, Stroud said.

Both were charged with murder initially but those charges were dismissed as a part of the plea deal with prosecutors, Stroud said. If Cook violates probation she will be up for 20 years in prison, she said.

Though Buckner was scheduled for a hearing Tuesday, he has not yet made a plea. He is facing a charge of tampering or fabricating physical evidence — a human corpse — with the intent to impair.

“He has some competency issues so he has to be adjudicated before he can plea,” Stroud said. “We are in that process, so that will be down the road.”

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