Thirty-year-old Nathan Henry Williams was facing a mandatory life sentence when he appeared before an Allegheny County judge Monday in the August 2011 killing of 57-year-old Elaina Davis.
Davis' body was found in a weedy lot in the city's Hill District. Authorities say Williams raped her and strangled her with a shoelace before setting her body on fire. DNA evidence linked Williams to the rape and the shoelace.
Williams maintains his innocence and in a letter to the court blames his public defender for failing to fight the charges the way he wanted.