Man pleads guilty to perjury in teen murder case

Kent County
Darren Eckford

A booking photo of Darren Eckford.

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.

Eckford served prison time with Quinn James, who was charged and convicted of raping and later murdering Mujey Dumbuya.

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 serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole for Mujey’s murder, in addition to a 20 to 30-year prison sentence for raping her.

James is expected to appeal his conviction for first-degree murder.

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