Matthew Whitten Darby, 18, entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of manslaughter by culpable negligence in the July 2012 hit-and-run death of Johnnie Butts, attorney Anthony Farese said.
Darby had been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal hit and run death of the 61-year-old.
According to Farese, Darby had met with the son of Mr. Butts along with other members of the Butts family last week. He offered his apologies and said he had fallen asleep at the wheel of the vehicle that hit Mr. Butts.
Farese said without the "Christian benevolence of the Butts family" the plea deal would not have been approved by prosecutors.
Darby will be sentenced to 20 years for manslaughter, and seven years for burglary of a nearby church. Both sentences will run consecutively.
Darby had been facing life in prison if convicted of murder.
MORE: Hit and run a hate crime? http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/story/19115655/hit-and-run-a-hate-crime