BEDFORD - Facing the death penalty if he proceeded to trial, Mark Allen Shirey admitted Friday that he gunned down his ex-wife's boyfriend the evening of March 26, 2011 - a crime Shirey allegedly called "nine years in the making."
He now faces life in prison without a chance for parole after his plea in Bedford County Court.
Shirey, 45, who lived in Bedford but listed residences on both sides of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, kicked in Michael Simpson's front door and waited in his Centerville home that Saturday afternoon, authorities said. When Simpson arrived, Shirey fired six 12-gauge shotgun shells and four .22-caliber rounds.
He left Simpson in a puddle of his own blood, District Attorney Bill Higgins said. Simpson's girlfriend - Shirey's ex-wife - found the body a day later.
Asked in court Friday whether he killed Simpson, Shirey said only "yes."
In the days after the murder, state police said they found evidence linking Shirey to the crime: a pair of bloodstained jeans at his brother's house, a 12-gauge Remington shotgun and bloody shoes that matched prints found at the scene.
Three days after the murder, Pennsylvania and Maryland state police arrested Shirey at a Maryland campground.
"You know the story. A guy takes your family away from you. What's a guy supposed to do?" he allegedly told officers at the time.
A search at the time revealed a long history of criminal charges in both states, including a conviction for assaulting Simpson in upstate Maryland.
Friends told police that Shirey had asked them to dispose of incriminating clothes and guns - one reported that he traded Shirey's .22-caliber pistol for heroin in Baltimore almost immediately after Simpson's murder.
Calling Shirey a "crazed lunatic," Higgins said in a press release that Shirey's plea agreement followed discussions with Simpson's family and relied on Shirey's total admission of guilt.
Relatives said Shirey and his ex-wife, who married when she was a teenager, had four children together.
Speaking in the courthouse after his client's conviction, defense attorney Steven Passarello noted that the plea deal would ensure Shirey's life imprisonment, sparing him execution for first-degree murder.
"This ... was a death-penalty case from the beginning. It was always a death-penalty case," Passarello said.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.