TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A man who killed an elderly couple in their southern New Jersey home has lost his bid for a lesser sentence.

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The Press of Atlantic City reports that a state appellate court rejected Brian Wakefield's request for post-conviction relief.

The Absecon man claimed his attorney gave him ineffective assistance on whether he would face the death penalty if he pleaded guilty to murder. But the appellate court said the lower court judge had noted that Wakefield acknowledged four times during his plea hearing that getting a death sentence was a possibility.

Wakefield was sentenced to death in 2004. But that was changed to life without parole after the state abolished the death penalty in 2007.

Wakefield admitted killing Richard and Shirley Hazard in their Pleasantville home in 2001. He then set their bodies and home afire.
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