Guilty plea in murder of NJ softball player Nicole Ayres

Stephen Headley and Nicole Ayres

June 5, 2012 3:00:24 PM PDT
A southern New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in the death of a former star softball player.

Stephen Headley of Florence faces a 30-year prison term - with no chance of parole - when he's sentenced Aug. 3.

But Burlington County prosecutors say they'll ask the judge to give Headley a life term.

The 30-year-old Headley admitted stabbing 22-year-old Nicole Ayres several times in the face, torso and back in September 2010 after they argued at a convenience store.

The prosecutor's office said several hours after the stabbing Headley asked his grandmother to drive him to his mother's house so he could discuss something with the two of them. During that meeting he fled from the house and ran into the road where he was hit by a pickup truck.

He suffered a fractured back, two fractured ankles and multiple fractured ribs.

Ayres' body eventually was found near an athletic field in rural Southampton Township, south of Trenton.

Ayres was a former high school and college softball star from Deptford who had only known Headley a short time. Neither Headley nor prosecutors disclosed what the pair argued about.