The girlfriend of convicted killer Jerry Ryan Echols pleaded guilty to lesser charges Wednesday after having previously been indicted for murder.
Three hours after Echols was sentenced to life without parole for first-degree murder, 35-year-old Shirley “Cricket” Hollifield of Nebo pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice. Cumulatively for both counts, she received a 16 to 28 month suspended sentence, six months of supervised probation and an eight month active sentence with 557 days of pretrial credit.
Hollifield was previously indicted by a grand jury for murder in May 2017 for her involvement in the 2015 shooting death of 39-year-old Christopher Wayne English. On that date in June 2015, Hollifield claimed that she was accosted by a man in her driveway while preparing to leave and buy fuel. Upon her return later that night, she and Echols drove together to look for the suspected man and found English, believed to be the culprit, at the intersection of Pinnacle Heights Drive and Pinnacle Church Road. After a confrontation between both men, a physical altercation ensued in which Echols shot and killed English.
Echols was arrested two days later after a chase by authorities on Dysartsville Road. He was found guilty of first-degree murder, along with weapon and drug charges, on Tuesday afternoon and sentenced Wednesday morning to life without parole.
During Hollifield’s sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Kent Brown said the state agreed to the plea arrangement due to insufficient evidence that Hollifield was aware of any intentions by Echols to shoot and kill English. The obstruction of justice charges were brought about as a result of two conversations with the Sheriff’s Office between June 23 and June 25, 2015 in which she had provided contradictory or false information that tried to exonerate Echols from the crime.
On behalf of Hollifield, court-appointed attorney Ted Beeson said his client apologizes to the law enforcement officers she spoke with, the District Attorney’s office and the English family.