PORTLAND – A Portland man accused of driving the getaway car from a fatal shooting in Parkside last year pleaded guilty Thursday to felony murder.

Moses Okot, 23, entered the plea in Cumberland County Superior Court as part of an agreement with prosecutors in the shooting death of 24-year-old Serge Mulongo. A charge of murder — a greater offense than felony murder — was dropped.

Justice Andrew Horton sentenced Okot to 10 years in prison, with all but three years suspended. Okot will also have to serve four years of probation with conditions that include no contact with witnesses in the case and random testing for drug and alcohol use.

Okot will get credit for the 16 months he has spent in jail awaiting trial since his arrest right after the shooting.

On Feb. 10, 2010, Mulongo was shot six times at close range while leaving his apartment building at the corner of Park Avenue and Weymouth Street. Okot was accused of providing the latex gloves used by the alleged gunman, Daudoit Butsitsi, 25, and of driving the getaway car.

Prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office said that if the case had gone to trial, they would have shown that there had been altercations among Mulongo, Okot and Butsitsi before the shooting, and that Okot was seen driving Butsitsi’s car around the time of the shooting.

Mulongo and Butsitsi lived in the same building.

“He was seen in the so-called getaway vehicle, which belonged to Mr. Butsitsi, about a half-hour before the shooting and he was identified immediately after the shooting driving the car,” said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese.

A person is guilty of felony murder if he or an accomplice kills someone while committing or fleeing from another crime. Unlike with a murder charge, prosecutors do not have to prove that a person charged with felony murder caused the victim’s death or acted intentionally.

Felony murder carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life.

Jury selection in Butsitsi’s trial is scheduled to begin today. The trial is expected to start next week.

Butsitsi and Okot would have had a single trial, with the jury returning a separate verdict for each man.

Okot’s plea does not include an agreement to testify in Butsitsi’s trial, Marchese said.

Okot’s sentence is consistent with similar cases.

Maxwell Chikuta, a friend of Mulongo’s family, addressed the court on its behalf.

“We would like to thank the court and all the parties involved for finding the justice in this matter,” he said. “We as a family feel that justice has been done.”

Chikuta said afterward that Mulongo’s family has been devastated by his death.

“It’s a void, and there’s no one to fill that void. We’ll always feel that void,” he said.

Okot’s plea does spare the family the difficulty of going through his trial, though they have made arrangements to attend Butsitsi’s trial.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected] 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]