A Colorado teenager who sexually assaulted and killed his 10-year-old stepsister has been sentenced to life in prison.
Aidan Zellmer, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2017 death of Kiaya Campbell last month in Adams County District Court.
The teen was due to be charged with first-degree murder with intent and after deliberation, and first-degree murder of a child under the age of 12 by a person in a position of trust but in exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped the additional count of first degree murder and a sexual assault charge against the teen.
‘In 27 years as a prosecutor, I have never seen a 15-year-old commit such a violent act,’ 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young said.
‘He wanted to do this… His actions certainly dictate that he intended to kill her and it took quite an effort to do it. And then to conceal it, not only to hide the body but mislead. Certainly indicates that his brain was developed and he knew what he was doing,’ said Young.
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Aidan Zellmer (left) has been sentenced to life behind bars after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. Prosecutors say the 17-year-old sexually assaulted and killed his 10-year-old stepsister Kiaya Campbell (right) in 2017. He will have a chance for parole when he is 56
‘In 27 years as a prosecutor, I have never seen a 15-year-old commit such a violent act,’ 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young said, pictured
Kiaya disappeared on the night of June 7, 2017, while walking to the store with Zellmer.
Her body was found beaten to death in a ravine the following day just a mile away from the home in Thorton where Kiaya’s father lived with his girlfriend and her two sons.
Zellmer, who was 15 at the time, initially told investigators that he and Kiaya were separated when he started running to escape a rainstorm. Neighbors disputed that there was rain in the area that night.
Kiaya (above) went missing on the night of June 7, 2017, while she and Zellmer were walking to the store in Thornton, Colorado. The 10-year-old was found beaten to death in a ravine the following day near the home where she and Zellmer lived with her father and his mother
Due to Zellmer’s age at the time of the murder, he will automatically be eligible for parole after serving 40 years in prison, but could get out in 30 years with reductions in time for good behavior.
Zellmer will serve the first two years of his sentence in a juvenile detention facility before being transferred to an adult prison when he turns 18.
Young said Zellmer’s guilty plea offers some relief to Kiaya’s family by avoiding the stress of a trial, where he would have been tried as an adult.
‘A 10-year-old’s life is gone, and her parents are going to be without her for the rest of their lives,’ he told
‘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.’
Zellmer, who was 15 at the time, initially told investigators that he and Kiaya (above) were separated when he started running to escape a rainstorm. Neighbors disputed that there was rain in the area on the night that Kiaya went missing