Colorado teen sexually assaulted and murdered 10-year-old girl whose father was dating his mother
15-year-old Aidan Zellmer entered the guilty plea after striking a deal with prosecutors and is expected to be given life in prison during his sentencing hearing next month
A Colorado teen who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl before bludgeoning her to death in 2017 was informed he would spend the rest of his life behind bars after acknowledging his guilt in the incident.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors had dropped the charges of sexual assault against Aidan Zellmer in the killing of Kiaya Campbell on June 7, 2017, in exchange for a guilty plea in regards to the charges of first-degree murder. Kiaya was the daughter of Zellmer's mother’s boyfriend. According to The Denver Channel, Zellmer, now 16, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11 but was reliably informed he could expect a life sentence during the hearing next month.
Campbell was reported missing on June 8, 2017, with it believed at the time that the 10-year-old had gone out to a shopping center with a friend and had separated from the friend near the 12900 block of Colorado Boulevard during a storm.
An AMBER Alert was issued and after an intensive search involving 23 rescue and law enforcement agencies, it would be a neighbor who ultimately found Campbell's body in a ravine about 1.5 miles from where she disappeared and just one mile from her father's home.
Two days later, police arrested Zellmer — who is the son of Kiaya's father's girlfriend — in connection with the first-degree murder and booked him into the Adams County Juvenile Detention Facility. It was confirmed that the 10-year-old was last seen not with a friend, but with Zellmer on the night of her disappearance.
An examination by the coroner revealed that Campbell's body showed signs of severe trauma and investigators subsequently determined the girl had been sexually assaulted by the teen. First-degree murder charges were first filed at a juvenile court, but the District Attorney announced they would seek to prosecute Zellmer as an adult because of the gruesome nature of the crime.
According to The Denver Post, Adams County Juvenile Court Judge Priscilla Loew ruled that Zellmer's case should be transferred to adult court, but the case has been sealed. The 15-year-old pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on January 26 in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of first-degree murder of a child under the age of 12 and three charges of sexual assault.
Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said Zellmer, now 16, would serve two years of his sentence in a juvenile detention facility before then being transferred to an adult prison when he turns 18.
Zellmer will be eligible for parole when he is 56 after serving 40 years of his life sentence because he was a minor at the time he committed the murder. But reductions in time for good behavior, as well as a program for juvenile killers that allow them to apply for parole after serving 25 years means he could be out sooner as well.
Speaking about the development, Young said, "A 10-year-old’s life is gone, and her parents are going to be without her for the rest of their lives. 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."