PHOENIX -- A man who pleaded guilty to killing his aunt after an argument over cigarettes was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge sentenced William Null, 42, to the maximum term for second-degree murder. He also received a concurrent sentence of 3.5 years for burglary and four years of supervised probation for a second count of burglary. He will not be eligible for early release.
Cynthia Pesek was found dead inside her Mesa home in November. Investigators from the medical examiner's office determined Pesek had numerous skull fractures.
Authorities said Null beat her to death with a wooden tree stake then hid in the attic of a vacant home next door will police investigated. Officers took him into custody as he attempted to ride a bike from the area.
Null told police that he had been angry at Pesek because she had embarrassed him in front of their neighbors after he was unable to pay for a carton of cigarettes they had purchased for him. Pesek paid for them and Null said the two argued about it for three days.
Null periodically lived with his aunt, who was a retired teacher with Mesa Public Schools.
On May 24, Null waived his right to a jury trial and agreed to plead guilty to one count of second-degree murder and two counts of burglary.