Phoenix man pleads guilty in girlfriend's death

PHOENIX - A Phoenix man accused in the beating death of his girlfriend in 2011 has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Maricopa County prosecutors say 40-year-old Paul Lavon Hamilton also pleaded guilty Friday to kidnapping and threatening/intimidation charges.

He's scheduled to be sentenced on April 19.

Hamilton was arrested in May 2011 after 46-year-old Stephanie Joyce was found dead inside a pickup truck in north Phoenix.

He was taken into custody on suspicion of second degree murder, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Phoenix police say it first appeared that Joyce was passed out in the vehicle in the parking lot of a convenience store.

But officers discovered Joyce was dead from blunt-force injuries and that led to Hamilton's arrest.

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