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More than two years after a Utah teen was found slain in her home, a man has pleaded guilty to murdering her in order to cover up his sexual abuse of her.
Shaun Patrick French, 26, appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, the Deseret News reports. French’s plea comes as part of a deal with prosecutors, who, with the approval of the victim’s family, dropped several other charges against French, including sexual exploitation of a minor, and did not seek the death penalty in exchange for his admission of guilt, according to the outlet.
French murdered 15-year-old Baleigh Bagshaw in her home on May 7, 2018. French had lived in the girl's home for a number of months and allegedly sexually abused her beginning when she was 14, the Deseret News reports. French was kicked out of the Bagshaw home in 2018 but he still attempted to continue his illicit and abusive relationship with the teen, his lawyer, Michael Misner, said. He allegedly began threatening to hurt himself, Bagshaw, and her family.
French is also alleged to have tried to blackmail Bagshaw with explicit photos of her that he sent to her mother, KUTV reports. The teen told her mother about French’s abuse on May 2, according to the outlet. Bagshaw and her mother planned to report French to the police, but Bagshaw told French their intentions, at which point French, who was in Ohio at the time, drove to Utah to murder Bagshaw so that she couldn’t go to the police, his lawyer said, according to the Deseret News.
On the day that Bagshaw was killed, French called her on the phone 13 times, according to a probable cause statement obtained by KUTV. French admitted to breaking into the home while Bagshaw’s mother was at work and waiting for the teen to get home from school, at which point he attacked her so brutally that he nearly cut her head off, the Desert News reports. At the time of her death, Bagshaw had sustained lacerations to her neck and fingers, and had been stabbed in the shoulder and neck, according to KUTV.
Bagshaw was on the phone with her mother when she was killed, and she heard her daughter screaming and being attacked before the call was lost, the Salt Lake City Police Department during a May 2018 press conference. Her mother then called a neighbor, who called 911. Officers responding to the scene found the teen’s body on the kitchen floor, according to KUTV.
After killing Bagshaw, French fled the scene, tracking blood in the area and leaving the murder weapon, a knife, in the backyard, the Desert News reports. He and a friend then traveled together to Wyoming, where French disposed of his bloody clothes and washed the blood off of himself; they continued driving to Colorado, where French was apprehended on May 9, according to KUTV. He was then extradited back to Utah to face charges.
During an interview with police, French’s loved ones said that French was “obsessed” with Bagshaw and wanted to marry her, the Deseret News reports. After Bagshaw reported the abuse to her mother, the two had discussed trying to obtain a restraining order against him.
French is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on August 25, according to the Deseret News.
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