A Colorado teenager who pleaded guilty to killing the 10-year-old daughter of his mother’s boyfriend was sentenced to life in prison Monday, The Denver Post reported.
Aiden Zellmer, 17, who was charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge earlier this month in Adams County District Court in the 2017 beating death of Kiaya Campbell in Thornton, the newspaper reported. Zellmer could be paroled after 40 years, according to the Post, although Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said that with good behavior he could be released in 30 years.
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However, Young said “In 27 years as a prosecutor, I have never seen a 15-year-old commit such a violent act,” KDVR reported.
As part of a plea deal, Zellmer pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder on Feb. 1, the television station reported.
Zellmer will not be placed with adults in a Department of Corrections facility until he turns 18, the Post reported. He was 15 at the time of the murder and was initially charged as a juvenile, but the case was transferred to adult court.
Details of the case had been under seal until Monday because the investigation involved juveniles, the newspaper reported.
According to the Post, Kiaya was reported missing June 7, 2017, and her body was found a day later about 1½ miles from her home.
According to arrest documents, Zellmer and Kiaya were reported missing by Zellmer’s mother. When Zellmer was located, he told police he was going to steal Pokemon cards after damaging some of Kiaya’s, the Post reported. Zellmer claimed that as a thunderstorm approached, he got into an argument with Kiaya about whether they should return home or wait until the storm passed.
The pair decided to stay, but after the storm subsided Zellmer said he lost Kiaya as they were returning home.
After Kiaya’s body was found, Zellmer cried and told investigators he did not hurt the child, but left her because she was being annoying, the Post reported.
According to the autopsy report, Kiaya suffered multiple blunt-force injuries to the head as well as wounds to several fingers, KDVR reported.
After an autopsy, investigators linked the murder to Zellmer, the Post reported.
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