LINCOLN, Neb. -- Prosecutors reached a plea deal with the men accused in the beating deaths of two Lincoln men. Court records show Richard McLaughlin and Tyler Thornburg both pleaded no contest.
Judge John Colborn then found both men guilty of manslaughter and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
They had originally been charged with second degree murder. A third charge of accessory to felony was dismissed.
Dave Mueller and Shane Walton were beaten to death hours apart on June 29th, 2013. Court records say both were random attacks.
When the Walton family walked up the Lancaster County Courthouse stairs on Monday, they thought they were going in to hear evidence against the two men charged in the beating death of Shane Walton, however what happened was not what they expected.
"While we were sitting there, there was a lot of activity, people going in and out of the courtroom and then they went into a private room and then the next thing I know I'm being told that they are plotting a plea at that point," said Shane's aunt Stephanie Walton-Tadlock.
The Walton's were waiting to hear more about the trial scheduled to start next week, instead they found out prosecutors struck a plea deal with McLaughlin and Thornburg.
"When I originally heard that they were getting through the deal and hearing everything read and what happened that night, about how Shane tried to run, he saw them coming, and he got about 3 steps and when they hit him with a bat it was heartbreaking," said Walton-Tadlock.
But this plea deal wasn't a shock for Shane's uncle Shaun Walton who says it's probably the best way to make sure the two men are sent to prison.
"I'll leave justice up to God, I think that as a prosecutor you have to take the path of least resistance, you go in front of a jury trail, you can always have one juror that says no I don't think they did it and it's a total wash then," said Walton.
More than a year has passed since Shane's death but the pain isn't gone.
"Time doesn't ever heal anything like this, what time does is decreases the intensity of the pain, the pain is always there but as time goes on, you come to grips with it, you come to terms with it, you gotta get on with life," said Shaun.
In this case, moving on means dealing with a judge convicting these men on lesser charges, Walton thinks Thornburg and McLaughlin will spend some time behind bars.
"I hope the judge goes harsh on them, I really do," said Walton.
The sentence for manslaughter charge ranges from 2-70 years in prison.
Thornburg and McLaughlin are expected to be sentenced on August 29th.