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Man pleads guilty to conspiracy in northwest Ohio drug slaying, receives 16 years in prison

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SANDUSKY, Ohio — A man tried twice for what authorities say was a drug-related slaying in northwest Ohio has avoided a third trial by pleading guilty to reduced charges.

Thirty-year-old Thomas Ricks of New Orleans pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and burglary Aug. 14 in Erie County and received a 16-year sentence. Authorities say Ricks and a Detroit man killed Calvin Harper Jr. during a drug-related robbery in Sandusky in March 2008.

Ricks' aggravated murder conviction from 2010 was overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2013 because of hearsay testimony by a police detective. A jury acquitted Ricks of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery earlier this year but couldn't reach a verdict on a murder charge.

Ricks' attorney on Friday called the plea deal a reasonable solution.

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