A young Frayser man who once told police he got "a rush" from using guns on people, pleaded guilty Thursday to the 2008 shooting death of a Memphis police lieutenant -- his third murder conviction.
Dexter Cox, who was scheduled to go to trial Monday, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and accepted a 15-year sentence for killing Lt. Ed Vidulich on Jan. 28, 2008, at the officer's home on Shiloh Drive in Frayser.
Cox, now 23, was convicted in earlier trials of killing two other people and is serving consecutive sentences of life in prison, life without parole and 37 years.
"I'm glad it's over," said the officer's widow, Gayle Vidulich. "I'm glad he (Cox) got what he deserved and that he'll never get out of prison so he can't do this to someone else."
State prosecutor Ray Lepone said the settlement was reached because of the amount of prison time Cox already had and because one of those cases recently was affirmed on appeal. He said the Vidulich family also was spared the pain and uncertainty of a trial.
"We were ready for trial," Lepone said, "but with the amount of prison time he already had there was no greater sentence he could get."
He said the death penalty had not been sought because obtaining a first-degree murder verdict would have required proof of premeditation, not just that it was a knowing killing as is required in second-degree murder.
Cox had been to the Vidulich home on at least one other occasion seeking money in exchange for information about a burglary of the officer's home.
He said that on a subsequent visit, they argued over how much money he was to be paid and Cox said he shot Vidulich in self-defense when the 6-foot-8 officer attacked him with a knife.
Vidulich, 51, who headed the harbor patrol and police reserves, was shot twice in the face with a .40-caliber pistol. He had been a police officer for more than 28 years.
The same weapon was used by Cox in the murders of Gwendolyn Cherry and Herbert Wooten.
Cherry, 45, was shot four times on Oct. 9, 2007, as she walked in the 3300 block of Riney Road in Frayser after encountering Cox, who claimed she asked him for money and called him a "punk bitch" when he refused.
Wooten, 76, was shot at least three times two weeks later on Oct. 25 as he stood on his porch in the 1800 block of Pinedale in Frayser, where he was trying to sell a treadmill. His wife Barbara, 57, was shot in the stomach as she stood in the doorway.
Cox admitted to those shootings as well, saying he "just snapped" in killing Cherry and that he "just lost it for a little bit" when he killed Wooten.
Copyright 2013 - The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service