A 44-year-old Westampton Township man has pleaded guilty to beating his elderly neighbors last summer after breaking into their home, which resulted in the death of a 79-year-old man.

Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw says under an agreement with her office, Rhys R. Lershe pleaded guilty on Wednesday to first-degree aggravated manslaughter and two counts of first-degree robbery in exchange for 30 years in state prison.

An investigation began on August 4th after an elderly couple living next door to Lershe called police to report the attack.

The investigation revealed that Lershe entered their residence through a second-story bedroom window and demanded the keys to their 2014 black Kia Optima. He then assaulted the couple before leaving in their car.

The victims were taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden for treatment.

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Lershe was arrested the next day by Millville police at a home in Cumberland County. Authorities say he was still in possession of the stolen vehicle when he was apprehended.

Upgraded charges

The initial charges against Lershe were upgraded after 79-year-old Edward Bush died approximately six weeks after being attacked. An autopsy determined he died as a result of blunt force injuries to his head and chest.

What's next

Lershe will remain in the Burlington County Jail until sentencing, which is scheduled for September 15th.

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