Guilty plea in movie theater murder

RALEIGH Anthony Bimbo, 40, will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole so his stepson and another accomplice can get a better deal on jail time.

Bimbo told the court that the crime was an armed robbery gone wrong, resulting in the death of theater manager 48-year-old Mark Buhaug.

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Bimbo hung his head while answering the judge's questions about his plea deal. His attorney told the judge that Bimbo was willing to spend life in prison without parole so his stepson, 18-year-old Jason Zilinski, could get a much better plea bargain.

Zilinski worked at the theater at allegedly helped Bimbo plan the robbery.

The prosecutor confirmed the unusual deal.

"The plea that I've offered is contingent upon this defendant's plea of guilty as charged in this case," prosecutor Tom Ford said.

Much of what happened at the Marquee Cinemas was revealed by investigators in court. They said Bimbo was having marital problems, had lost his job and abused drugs.

They also said he had inside information, allegedly from Zilinski, that there would be lots of cash at the theatre on the weekend with box office premiers.

What the public didn't know was that Bimbo had handled a gun only once before in his life and his ignorance of weapons and his temper may have been the reason why Buhaug was killed.

"The defendant, it appears for emphasis, is banging the gun on what appears to be a stainless steel counter," Ford explained. "The gun discharges. There is some evidence that the bullet actually struck the counter first and ricocheted up into Mr. Buhaug."

Bimbo declined an opportunity to speak, but his attorney said he never intended to kill anyone and is sorry.

"He did want people to know that he was truly sorry," said Karl Knudsen, Bimbo's attorney. "When he was apprehended, from the very beginning, he did everything he could to accept full responsibility for this."

The victim's family was not in court Wednesday. According to the prosecutor, they approved the deal.

Bimbo's mother was the only observer.