A Halifax man facing a first-degree murder trial in the death of a 32-year-old man in the city's north end more than two years ago has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Russell Matthew Beaver was charged in September 2011 in the shooting death of Shawn Mead. Mead was shot to death at his Bilby Street apartment on June 5, 2011, and his decomposing body was discovered by a friend three weeks later.

His dog also died. Luke Craggs, Beaver's lawyer, says the dog died of dehydration. 

Beaver was facing a 30-day jury trial on a charge of first-degree murder, but opted on Monday morning to be tried by judge alone. He immediately entered a plea of guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Crown Prosecutor Darrell Martin said the plea is something they'd been working on for about a month.

"It is still a murder," said Martin. "There's an automatic life sentence, the sentencing will determine the parole ineligibility, which is anywhere from 10 to 25 years."

Beaver is on house arrest at his parent's house until his sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2014.

Martin said Mead's family was aware of the plea bargain.

"I don't know that any family who has had someone murdered is happy with anything that the justice system does, but they understand where the Crown is coming from and how the gentleman will be treated for this crime," he said.

Halifax Regional Police said Beaver and Mead knew each other, but didn't give any details.