Brian Ellis Patrick pleaded guilty Monday to one count of murder in connection with the shooting death of a Commerce resident in June of last year.

Patrick, 25, of Commerce waived a jury trial and also entered a guilty plea in the 354th District Court to one count of felon in possession of a firearm involving the death of James Ray Prothro, according to District Attorney F. Duncan Thomas.

“This was an open plea with no agreement as to punishment,” Thomas said.

Jury selection had been scheduled in the case for Monday morning.

Judge Richard A. Beacom ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled a sentencing hearing for the afternoon of Feb. 28.

“Mr. Patrick has claimed that the murder was committed under the influence of sudden passion for an adequate cause,” Thomas said. “That is an issue the judge will decide at the punishment hearing.”

If convicted of murder, Patrick could be sentenced to from five to 99 years to life in prison.

“Sudden passion” has been described in legal terminology as “a sudden or uncontrollable passion or that would render an ordinary person incapable of cool reflection”.

If Patrick can prove the murder occurred under sudden passion for an adequate cause, the maximum punishment Patrick could receive would be reduced to from two to 20 years in prison.

Prothro, 26, was shot on the afternoon of June 30, 2005 in the 600 block of Fourth Street in Commerce. Prothro was transported by helicopter to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where he was later pronounced dead.

Patrick fled the scene and was the subject of a search by officers from the Commerce, Greenville and Wolfe City police departments, the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers. Patrick was taken into custody by the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office about fours after the shooting.

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