A South Carolina man who blamed the antidepressant drug Zoloft for the shotgun slaying of his grandparents when he was 12 years old pleaded guilty at a hearing Thursday to voluntary manslaughter.
Judge Ernest Kinard also sentenced Christopher Pittman, now 21, to serve 25 years in prison as part of a plea deal that means he could be released from prison in about 12 years. He had been serving a 30 year sentence, with a projected release in 2031.
Pittman was tried as an adult in the 2001 slaying of his grandparents in their Chester home. He was convicted of shooting Joe and Joy Pittman while they slept and setting fire to their home, about 50 miles north of Columbia, then taking off in the family car.
Initially telling police a black man killed his grandparents and set the fire, the boy later admitted to the crimes, saying he shot his grandparents because they disciplined him after a fight on a school bus.
At his 2005 trial, Pittman's attorneys argued that the prescription drug Zoloft caused him to become manic and commit the slayings. He was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to the minimum of 30 years in prison. Appeals to the South Carolina and U.S. Supreme Courts have been unsuccessful.