Nearly five years after Devane Campbell was shot and killed, Noel Francis admitted to having played a role in his death -- but not to killing him.

Francis pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Thursday. It was an unusual move, given that he had spent the past few weeks on trial for first-degree murder – a charge which was withdrawn by the Crown shortly before the manslaughter plea.

The Crown had alleged that Francis shot Campbell during a robbery at a townhouse on Elm Ridge Drive in Kitchener on Nov. 30, 2012.

Several witnesses had testified that the townhouse was robbed by masked men. None of them were able to identify the men.

As part of Francis’ plea, an agreed statement of facts was entered into the court record.

The statement lays out the mutually accepted version of what happened on the night Campbell was killed.

It says that Francis received a phone call about a planned robbery in Kitchener, and encouraged it to happen.

“He knew it was dangerous and knew violence and bodily harm was possible,” the statement reads.

The statement does not state that Francis was involved in the robbery or in Campbell’s shooting. As a result, Campbell’s murder is once again officially classified as unsolved.

“Ultimately, what he agreed to was diametrically opposed to the Crown’s theory of the case and the Crown’s theory of how Mr. Francis was involved," defence lawyer Chris Murphy said outside the courthouse.

In addition to manslaughter, Francis pleaded guilty to intimidating an in-custody informant, during an incident in which he and the informant were accidentally placed in the same prisoner transfer van.

Manslaughter is a term used when somebody is legally responsible for causing a death, but their actions were not deliberate or planned out ahead of time.

It carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, and no minimum sentence.

Francis, who has been in custody since his arrest, will be sentenced on Friday. The Crown and defence are expected to ask the judge for the same sentence.

With reporting by Nicole Lampa