by Catherine Holland
Posted on July 20, 2010 at 9:58 AM
Updated today at 11:42 AM
•Surveillance video shows Arizona speed-van killing
•Man charged in speed-camera killing to go to trial
PHOENIX -- The man accused of shooting and killing the operator of a photo-enforcement van was in court today to change his plea.
Thomas Patrick Destories, 69, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of Doug Georgianni.
On Tuesday morning, Destories pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He could face the maximum of 22 years in prison when he's sentenced next month.
According to investigators, Georgianni was doing paperwork as he sat inside a speed-camera van on the side of Loop 101 near Seventh Avenue in North Phoenix last April when Destories, a Jeep tour operator, allegedly shot him to death.
Two different surveillance videos were released in the case. One showed Georgianni inside the speed-camera van; the other showed a Chevy Suburban pulling up to the van.
Destories' trial was slated to begin in January, but his attorney requested a psychiatric evaluation, saying Destories has a history of mental illness going back to 1970.
Two psychologists examined Destories and found him competent to stand trial.
Georgianni's family did not want to speak on camera, but said they are relieved by Tuesday's turn of events and happy to have a guilty plea from Destories more than a year after Georgianni's death.
The photo-enforcement vehicles, which were operated Redflex Traffic Systems, were pulled off the freeways for a short time after the shooting. They were later put back into operation until last week when the state's contract with Redflex expired.
Destories is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, Aug. 20.