Missouri inmate pleads guilty to 2003 pickax slaying

JEFFERSON CITY | An inmate at the former Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City has pleaded guilty in the 2003 pickax killing of a fellow prisoner.

A Cole County judge sentenced 33-year-old Christopher Sims to life in prison without parole after Sims pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Toby Vilas.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported that the plea came after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Sims and another inmate disappeared on the prison grounds after Vilas was killed in the basement ice house of the old penitentiary. They were discovered nearly four days later behind the hollow bottom of a staircase.

The Missouri State Penitentiary near the state Capitol has since been closed. ——— Information from: Jefferson City News-Tribune,