BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Nearly seven years after a Korean War veteran was found dead and badly burned in his backyard in Birmingham, a man has pleaded guilty to killing him.

Thomas Sims, 25, pleaded guilty on Monday to murder in the case of Gene Emory Dacus, who died August 17, 2016 after being burned at his home on 33rd Avenue North. At the time of his death, witnesses claimed to have seen a man running away from the scene, carrying a red gasoline jug. The witnesses reportedly followed the suspect and reported his location to police.

Sims, who was then 18 years old, was subsequently arrested.

At the time, a preliminary investigation suggested there was an encounter between the Sims and Dacus which led to the 85-year-old veteran being doused with gasoline and set on fire.

“This homicide shocks the conscience of any reasonable person,” former Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said. “Our hearts are hurting for the victim, his family and our community. The suspect actually confessed to this crime but we have not received any logical justification to explain what happen.”

As part of his plea, Sims will be sentenced to 25 years in prison, in addition to time served. Sims was initially charged with capital murder, which typically carries a prison sentence between 10 years to life in prison, as well as attempting to elude.

Dacus served in the Army, where he fought in the Korean War. He later spent his career as an airplane mechanic.

“Mr. Gene was a friend to everyone he met and he would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need,” Dacus’ obituary read.