by: Mark Becker Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Christopher Huffman pleaded guilty to first-degree murder instead of taking a plea deal Thursday in court.
He killed a man in January he once considered a mentor and a friend.
"I never thought I would have to see him like that, shackled up and facing a murder charge," said Daryl Hammonds, a friend.
Ten months later, it's a question that still haunts Hammonds.
He'd known Chris Huffman through Alcoholics Anonymous, the same way he knew Mike Middleton, the man that Huffman admitted killing outside his home in Charlotte's Sedgefield neighborhood in January.
What no one apparently knew was Huffman had been plotting the murder for weeks.
He watched Middleton come out of his house early every morning to get his newspaper and kept notes in a journal that read, "No fear in the shot. I am a prisoner until shot sets me free."
Larry Hewitt, defense attorney, said, "I think he's at peace with his decision and with the consequences of his conduct and I think that's the extent of what I can say."
Hewitt wouldn't talk about what might have motivated Huffman to pull the trigger a dozen times that morning, 11 shots hit Middleton with six in the head.
Hewitt said that Huffman's family doesn't even have the answer.
"This young man had no prior record," Hewitt said. "And here we are in a first-degree murder case, and they are devastated as you might expect."
Huffman could've answered that question himself in court but chose not to say anything, and even he may never know the answers.
Hammonds and others who knew Middleton could find some measure of peace in what happened Thursday.
"Seeing Chris take responsibility for what he's done and serving life in prison, it's a lot of closure today, a lot of closure for a lot of people." Hammonds said.
Read more coverage of this story here.
To see more local news stories, click here.
Man pleads guilty in murder of friend
EXCLUSIVE: Video shows what appears to be part of chase before trooper…
Overturned 18-wheeler shuts down I-85 North lanes
Shots fired after police chase ends at busy Cabarrus Co. intersection
CMS Montessori school principal suspended during embezzlement investigation