GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man charged with perjury in connection to the murder of a 16-year-old East Kentwood High School student has pleaded guilty.
Darren Eckford entered the plea in court Tuesday.
Authorities say James raped Dumbuya in 2017 when she was 15 and then wanted to get rid of her before she could testify against him at trial. She went missing Jan. 24, 2018, in Grand Rapids and her body was found four days later along a trail in Kalamazoo. She had been strangled.
During James’ preliminary hearing, Eckford testified he connected James with another friend, Gerald Bennett, to “take care of it,” as James allegedly put it.
Eckford denied he knew any of the details of the alleged scheme, but said he did talk to Bennett after the girl’s body was found.
As part of a plea deal, Eckford must testify in Bennett’s upcoming trial. In return, the prosecutor will recommend a sentence of no more than a year in jail.
James is expected to appeal his conviction for first-degree murder.