A Lincoln man arrested in the alleged drug-debt killing of Phillip Madlock last year reached a plea deal with prosecutors in the case Tuesday, according to court records.
Paul A. Clark, 36, pleaded no contest to charges of first-degree assault and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
In exchange, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jan Lipovsky dropped other felony charges against Clark, including second-degree murder, kidnapping, second-degree assault and another weapons charge.
Lincoln police arrested Clark along with co-defendant Dominic Aguirre in January and alleged the pair found Madlock at a friend’s house in the city June 28, 2017, and severely assaulted him there and elsewhere as they moved him.
Investigators allege Madlock died from his wounds as Aguirre and Clark transported him, according to court documents.
In an affidavit for Clark’s arrest, investigators alleged Clark had aided and abetted Aguirre in Madlock’s killing.
With Clark’s plea to the reduced charges Tuesday, it was unclear whether he would cooperate with prosecutors in Aguirre’s case. Aguirre is set for trial on murder, kidnapping, assault and weapons charges in January 2019.
Clark’s attorney, Spike Eickholt, declined to comment on the case Tuesday.
As part of the plea deal with Clark, prosecutors also dropped charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of a stolen firearm, which were filed as he was under investigation in Madlock’s disappearance.
Madlock’s killing marked the first recorded homicide of 2017, but it began as a missing-person case that Lincoln police worked on quietly.
Neither police nor Madlock’s family publicized the investigation, as often happens when someone disappears under suspicious circumstances.
At the time he was reported missing, a sister called Madlock’s disappearance out of character and said she feared something might be wrong, police said in a Nov. 22 affidavit requesting a search warrant for Madlock’s phone records.
Police have not said publicly if they have found Madlock’s body.
Lancaster District Judge Kevin McManaman accepted the plea at Tuesday’s hearing.
In taking the plea, Clark avoided the possibility of a life sentence on the kidnapping charge.
Still, he faces up to 100 years in prison at his sentencing in October.