DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A 29-year-old Detroit man could end up living out the rest of his days behind bars after pleading guilty to a reduced murder charge in the slaying of his estranged wife, whose two children remain missing.
Erin Justice was sentenced to 45 to 80 years in prison for the second degree murder of Alicia Fox.
Justice at first declined the offer to plead guilty to second-degree murder instead of face trial on charges including first-degree murder, but accepted the plea agreement earlier this month.
Justice "destroyed so many lives," Fox's mother said in a victim impact statement.
"This devil disguised himself as an angel," Travae Fox said. "Came right in our homes and ate from our plates and drank from our glasses."
Justice sat emotionless in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and stared ahead as Travae Fox spoke about how she and her family suffered over her daughter's death and the disappearance of the children
Alicia Fox had been reported missing in late May 2014, along with her 6-year-old daughter Kaylah Hunter and 8-month old son Kristian Justice. The children remain missing and a $3,000 reward is being offered for information on their whereabouts. Erin Justice is Kristian's father. He didn't say anything about the children during Tuesday's hearing.
Co-defendant Timothy Jones, 27, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in Alicia Fox's death. Jones testified against Justice, saying he helped move the woman's body and that the children were alive when he last saw them.
Authorities say Kristian and Kaylah were both seen at a family Memorial Day celebration at an aunt's house on Saturday May 24, 2014. Kaylah was also seen that Sunday, May 25 by a cousin at a home on Ardmore St. on Detroit's west side. Other family members also saw both children with Justice during this time.
Kaylah's father and grandmother were expecting her at her kindergarten graduation in Southfield. When Kaylah didn't show up, the grandparents called Alicia Fox but got no answer from the mother. The grandparents then checked on the family at the Ardmore address, and the home was empty. They then went to police and filed a missing persons report.
Alicia Fox's decomposed body was found about two weeks later inside a vacant house about six miles from her home.
Investigators found Justice in the Atlanta, Georgia area where he fought extradition before he was finally brought back to Michigan in August.
Family members believed Justice knows where the children are, although he hasn't been charged in their disappearance. Detroit Police Chief James Craig has said investigators have no idea if they're dead or alive.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Trisha Gerard vowed to "continue to seek justice" for the Fox family.
"The irony that this defendant's last name is Justice has never escaped me once," Gerard said.
If you have any information on the location of these children, you're urged to make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.
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