03/25/1999 at 12:00 AM EST

One of two young men charged in the slaying of gay college student Matthew Shepard pleaded guilty to felony murder and kidnapping charges in Laramie, Wyo., Monday and was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. The plea by Russell Henderson, 21, allowed him to avoid a trial and a possible death sentence. Authorities said Henderson and Aaron McKinney, 21 (whose case will go to trial in August), lured Shepard out of a bar last October, kidnapped and pistol-whipped him and left him tied to a fence in the cold. The 21-year-old University of Wyoming student died five days later at a hospital. In the courtroom, Henderson apologized to Shepard's parents: "I'm very sorry for what I did, and I'm ready to pay my debt for what I did." Judge Jeffrey A. Donnell dismissed his apology. "This court does not believe you feel any remorse," Donnell said. "The pain you have caused here, Mr. Henderson, will never go away. Never."

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