Charlotte man pleads guilty to murdering beloved CPCC counselor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The man who killed a beloved Central Piedmont Community College counselor inside her southwest Charlotte apartment in 2016 pleaded guilty Thursday.

[READ MORE: Man accused of killing beloved CPCC counselor pleads not guilty]

Matthew Benner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Amanda Strous and will spend at least 38 years in prison.

[Photos of Amanda Strous]

Police said Benner became obsessed with his neighbor Strous and strangled her in June 2016 inside her apartment on Toscana Way, before lighting it on fire and fleeing.

[Autopsy: Charlotte bride-to-be strangled before apartment set on fire]

Benner was arrested days later in Nevada and was brought back to North Carolina.

[PAST COVERAGE: Slain college counselor laid to rest]

Investigators said Benner lived in the unit directly above Strous and believe he had been stalking her on social media. Police found some of her personal items in his apartment during the investigation. They also found assault rifles, a handgun, 100 bullets, and a handwritten journal which said he wrote about wanting to kill a woman's husband.

Strous was set to be married a few weeks after she was killed.

Benner didn't flinch Thursday as the details of the murder were read out in court, and then Strous's mother told the judge how much it hurt.

"An enormous part of my heart was ripped from my soul on that day," said Crystal Strous.

She told Channel 9 that the family agreed to Thursday's plea deal to spare themselves the pain of a long trial.

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