FORT VALLEY, Ga. (AP) — A 59-year-old Georgia man is heading to prison for life after he pleaded guilty in the 2016 slayings of two sheriff's deputies.

Ralph Stanley Elrod pleaded guilty to malice murder and other crimes before a judge Thursday in Peach County southwest of Macon. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in a plea deal with prosecutors. News outlets reported Elrod would have faced a possible death sentence if his case went to trial.

Prosecutors said Elrod fatally shot Peach County deputies Daryl Smallwood and Patrick Sondron on Nov. 6, 2016, as they responded to a call that Elrod had pointed a gun at a neighbor's nephews.

District Attorney David Cooke said Elrod later told investigators he shot the deputies because he "did not want to go to jail."