LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — An appeals court has rejected the appeal of a man serving a life term plus 20 years in the murder of a sixth-grade math teacher during a burglary of her home.

Twenty-eight-year-old Thomas Moore had argued that his trial lawyer coerced him into pleading guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in the December 2014 killing of 38-year-old Nicole Mathewson in Lancaster.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court said Tuesday the argument had no merit, pointing out that he said at his plea hearing that his plea wasn't forced and indicated that it was aimed at avoiding a possible death sentence.

Moore's cousin, Marcus Rutter, who was 16, was sentenced to 54 to 109 years but an appeals court has ordered him resentenced, saying the maximum term should have been life.