As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a sexual assault charge against Aidan Zellmer, 16, as well as an additional count of first-degree murder
A Colorado teen who molested a 10-year-old girl before bludgeoning her to death in 2017 acknowledged his guilt in court recently, and learned a life sentence will be imposed during his sentencing hearing next month.
Aidan Zellmer, 16, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Kiaya Campbell on June 7, 2017, in the city of Thornton, Colorado, PEOPLE confirms.
As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a sexual assault charge as well as an additional count of first-degree murder, court officials tell PEOPLE.
A neighbor found Kiaya’s body in a ravine just a mile from her home.
Her body was found the day after police say she was killed.
The teen initially told investigators he’d gotten separated from Kiaya as they were running home after being caught in a rainstorm.
Prosecutors had been planning to try Zellmer as an adult.
According to the Denver Post, Zellmer appeared in court on Jan. 26 to enter the plea.
He was shackled at the ankles and wrists, the paper reports.
Zellmer, who was 15 at the time of the murder, will become eligible for parole in 40 years.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
His sentencing is set for March 11.
According to CBS, Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said the punishment in the case fits the crime.
“A 10-year-old’s life is gone, and her parents are going to be without her for the rest of their lives,” said Young. “So I think there’s a sense of relief that they have some closure in the criminal justice center. But nothing we do here today is going to bring them absolute relief for what happened to their daughter.”