February 20, 2018 05:19 PM

A Washington State man pleaded guilty last week to the 2014 rape and murder of a 6-year-old girl, PEOPLE confirms.

A court official tells PEOPLE Gabriel Gaeta, 21, of Bremerton pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree rape on Friday during an appearance in Kitsap County Superior Court.

In 2014, Gaeta sexually assaulted 6-year-old Jenise Wright, and later strangled and beat the little girl to death.

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Gaeta was 17 and a high school senior at the time of his arrest. He was charged as an adult.

According to the Kitsap Sun, Gaeta was found incompetent to stand trial a year ago, but was put on medication at Western State Hospital so he could be returned to a mental state where he could be tried for the murder.

Jenise’s body was found beneath a wood pallet in the muddy woods near her Bremerton home.

Investigators linked Gaeta to the murder after matching his DNA to fluids recovered from the young girls’ remains.

Gabriel Gaeta

According to the Kitsap Sun, as they searched his home, police allegedly recovered a bloody towel and other incriminating evidence.

Her body also showed signs she had been sexually assaulted.

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She was last seen by her parents when she went to bed on Aug. 2.

Gaeta was a neighbor and friend to the girl’s family.

Gaeta is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21 and faces 40 years in prison.

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