A 27-year-old Greenfield man admitted in court Friday to killing his mother, whose body authorities said he buried under their shed along with a “world’s greatest mother” statue.
Joshua McWain, of 370 Daniels Road, pleaded guilty in Saratoga County Court to second-degree murder and is expected to be sentenced next month to 19 years to life in state prison as part of a plea deal. It’s less than the maximum he faced if he had been convicted at trial. Prosecutors also dropped an evidence-tampering charge related to his allegedly hiding his mother’s body.
McWain pleaded guilty to the highest charge against him three days before he was scheduled to stand trial in the Oct. 27 killing of Carol L. Stanford, 59, at the mobile home they shared.
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Kopach noted Friday in court that two psychiatrists determined that McWain has the mental capacity to understand the charges against him.
McWain appeared in court with his head shaved and wearing county jail garb. He answered “Yes, sir,” when Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano asked McWain whether he had reviewed and agreed to the guilty plea.
His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 27.
“My client and I intensely reviewed the evidence and we concluded that it was in his best interest to plead guilty and receive a lesser sentence than the maximum he faced if convicted after trial,” Saratoga County Public Defender Oscar Schreiber, who represented McWain, said in a news statement. The maximum sentence would have been 25 years to life.
McWain’s arrest on the murder charge was a violation of his probation from a previous petty larceny conviction. He pleaded guilty on Friday to that violation and agreed to pay $4,800 restitution to a man in connection with that case.
Prosecutors said Stanford’s other family members were relieved that McWain will go to prison. She had a daughter who lives in Corinth and five grandchildren. She was widowed in 2005.
Law enforcement officials testified in an evidence hearing in May that when Saratoga County sheriff’s deputies went to the home to check on Stanford, McWain confessed to hitting her in the head with a floor buffer because he was angry that she told him to do chores.
After she died, he wrapped her body in a sleeping bag and buried her in a root cellar under the shed, authorities said.
Over the next few days, he visited the makeshift grave several times, authorities said, adding items to it, including the “world’s greatest mother” statue.
On Oct. 30, neighbors noted Stanford’s disappearance and called the sheriff’s department requesting that deputies check on her. After being questioned, McWain confessed to killing her, authorities said, and they found her body under a small blue storage shed.
Stanford died of blunt force trauma to the head and excessive bleeding.
“From the deputies who responded to the initial welfare check to the investigators who took over the case, the sheriff’s office did a very thorough and professional job to bring this defendant to justice and bring a sense of peace to the victim’s family,” District Attorney James A. Murphy III said in a news release.