A man pleaded guilty Friday to killing a college student whose disappearance prompted a nationwide search last year before her body was found in a burned-out Mississippi chicken house.
Maurice Wallace, whose courtroom appearances have been marked with bizarre behavior, pleaded guilty to all counts against him in the slaying of Olamide Adeyooye and in an escape attempt in which prosecutors say he tried to kill a jail guard.
When the judge asked him whether he understood that his plea would keep him behind bars for life, Wallace replied, “Yeah, can’t wait.”
His attorney noted that the plea agreement was not a product of negotiations but “an embodiment of our client’s wishes.” Wallace, 28, was unwilling to have any of the charges against him dropped and agreed that the murder was brutal and heinous.
“In fact, I insist,” Wallace declared.
Wallace lived on the same block as Adeyooye, a 21-year-old Illinois State University student and a native of Nigeria who moved to suburban Chicago when she was 8.
Prosecutors say Wallace killed Adeyooye in her apartment in October, then dumped her body in her car and drove away. He was arrested in Atlanta on unrelated charges a day before her body was found and was later connected to the crime; her car keys were found in a rental car Wallace had at the time.
Additional charges were added in May after Wallace attacked a guard with a knife made from a broom handle and a metal blade, leaving her with stab wounds, facial fractures and eye injuries. He told detectives he was trying to escape.
Life plus 50 years
Wallace was sentenced to natural life plus 50 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to counts including first-degree murder, concealing a homicide, attempted murder, aggravated battery, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted escape.
“It’s a blessing that he pleaded out today. That’s what we’ve all been waiting for ... him behind bars is what everyone needs,” said Olivia Anglin, who has not returned to work since the May 28 attack.
Reached at his Maryland home Friday evening, Adeyooye’s father, Adiodun Adeyooye, declined to comment until he heard the news from an attorney.
Adeyooye’s former roommate, 23-year-old Ashley Petrey, said the plea would help take the spotlight off Wallace.
“It’s not about him anymore, it’s about Olamide,” she said. “God blessed us with this, saying, ’You don’t have to do this anymore. It’s over.’ We can start the process of grieving.”
Wallace has made profanity-laced outbursts during his court appearances, drawing a three-month sentence for contempt in January, but a psychiatrist determined that he was fit for trial.
Before Wallace pleaded guilty, McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski sent him to an isolation room to cool down in the hallway when the defendant addressed the judge by his first name. After the plea, Drazewski banished him to an isolation cell after he interrupted a prosecutor.