One of the men charged in connection with the murder of former Harlan County Sheriff Paul Browning Junior admits he's guilty. Johnny Epperson made a deal with the prosecutor Wednesday.
The family of Paul Browning Junior was in the courtroom as Epperson pleaded guilty to the charges, a move the family says is a major step forward in their search for justice.
Paul Browning Junior's wife and son looked on as Johnny Epperson admitted to helping murder Browning, move his body, and set fire to the burned pickup Browning was found shot to death in several years ago. Hearing that admission brought back awful memories for Browning's family, but it was something they've been waiting to hear.
"I think grief, overcame by joy that this is moving forward in a positive manner," said Browning's son, Paul Browning III.
Epperson's charges are reduced as long as he promises to testify against others in the case.
"He has important information. It will continue to assist in the prosecution of all those involved," said Commonwealth's Attorney Karen Greene.
Raymond Harris is also charged in Browning's murder. His case is expected to go to trial soon.
Knowing Johnny Epperson was partially responsible for their loved one's death, Browning's family has become even hungrier for more information.
"To have someone there in the final moments, I'd love to ask him more," said Paul Browning III.
And with Wednesday's deal, the prosecutor hopes Epperson will help lead to more answers in the investigation.
The Bell County circuit judge still has to make a decision on whether to accept Johnny Epperson's plea agreement. The lead Kentucky State Police detective in the Browning case says this is a huge help to his investigation and that there will be more arrests in the Paul Browning Junior murder case.