Rockford Woman Pleads Guilty to 2002 Murder

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A Rockford woman faces up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to the death of a Loves Park man in 2002.

Twenty-three-year-old Jessica Lighthart pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Christopher Houston.

Lighthart avoids a possible life sentence with the plea. She was arrested with 26-year-old Markus Buchanan, who also is charged with first-degree murder. Buchanan's trial is scheduled to begin Monday at the Winnebago County Courthouse.

Authorities believe Buchanan killed Houston, whose body was found in a burned out sport utility vehicle on Dec. 5, 2002.

Officials say Lighthart lured Houston to another woman's house, helped drive his body to a field and helped set the vehicle on fire.

Lighthart's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 13.