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Posted: 7:58 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

Gwinnett mass murderer admits guilt

Richard Ringold pleads guilty
Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com
Richard Ringold listens to witness's testimony during his death penalty trial. of Richard Ringold, who is accused of gunning down his girlfriend, two of her friends and her 11-year-old daughter during a domestic dispute in 2009, decided to plead guilty and avoid the death penalty on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012.

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Child’s impending testimony spurs guilty plea in Gwinnett murder case photo
Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com
Nancy Butler (right), grandmother of Atania Butler, gets a hug from Gifty Kargbo (center), the only victim to escape from the shooting, as Shontril Johnson (left) looks after the trial of Richard Ringold, who is accused of gunning down his girlfriend, two of her friends and her 11-year-old daughter during a domestic dispute in 2009, at Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center on Tuesday, October 23, 2012.
Shootings kill 4, injures child photo
Gwinnett County Police officers stand watch in front of the house where a man is accused of shooting four people early Friday morning. Richard Ringold, 44, is accused of fatally shooting four people and injuring a four-year-old girl in the the 700 block of Clairidge Lane in Lawrenceville. Ringold is being held without bond in the Gwinnett County Detention Center.

By Sandra Parrish

Gwinnett County —

Just before a key witness was to testify in his death penalty case, quadruple murder suspect Richard Ringold enters a negotiated plea in exchange for life without parole.

Nhaje Alexander, then four, was shot twice by Ringold.  She was the only survivor of the mass murders that claimed the lives of her mother Atania Butler, her 11-year-old sister Jhane, and two others. She was to have been the prosecutions final witness in a case that weighed heavily against the defendant.

On the request of the family members of the victims, District Attorney Danny Porter offered Ringold the deal just minutes before the little girl was to take the stand in order for her not to have to testify.

"I'm so relieved that she didn't have to go up there... knowing she could do it," says her grandmother Nancy Butler.

First responders to the scene as well as emergency room physicians testified as to the little girl's remarkable composure despite what she witnessed and being wounded herself.

Earlier Tuesday, the prosecution painted a picture of a double life led by Ringold.

Rental agent April Turner, who had been renting a car to Butler for the six months prior to her murder, testified Ringold was driving the car.

"I thought they were husband and wife... because they didn't say any different. They were always together, once in a while he'd call her wifey. They acted like any other husband and wife I know," says Turner.

But Butler had decided to terminate the contract for the car the day of her murder and was having trouble locating Ringold to turn it in.

After turning it in around 7pm, witnesses say she and Ringold had an argument outside her Lawrenceville home.

Porter says Butler was angry having learned of another woman in Ringold's life.

That woman, Tisshuteria Brown, testified she had been living with Ringold in a Clayton County town home during the prior seven months and had no idea who Butler was until the day of her murder.

Brown says she had several missed calls from Butler on that day and was on the phone with Ringold for nearly an hour the night of the murders. She says she could hear a woman crying in the background who Ringold claimed was his daughter.

"He was like this is not right, this is not right, somebody's going to make this right," says Brown.

Butler believes Ringold killed her daughter and others over anger that Atania had figured out he was living off of two women.

"He's so used to using women and that was one he couldn't use," says the elder Butler.

Ringold pleaded guilty to four counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault, and four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.  He will not be eligible for parole.

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