A Utah teenager scheduled to be tried Tuesday on charges of murdering a Las Vegas convenience store clerk pleaded guilty Friday in a move to escape the death penalty imposed on his companion last month.

Joe Beeson, 18, of Orem, said he wanted to avoid the penalty imposed last month on Ed Bennett, 19, of Lehi.Bennett was convicted last month of firing the shot that killed Michelle Moore, 21, a clerk at a Stop `N Go market east of the Las Vegas Strip on Feb. 9.

Beeson, who told authorities that Bennett fired the fatal shot, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and told District Judge Myron Leavitt he was entering the plea to escape the death penalty.

Beeson was then sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.