A Maryland teenager has admitted he murdered his ex-girlfriend weeks shy of her 16th birthday, before he dumped her body in the trash.
Naeshawn Jaheim Perry, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder Tuesday in the killing of Maleigha Solonka, 15, according to court documents obtained by the Baltimore Sun. In exchange for his plea, Perry agreed to be sentenced to life in prison with all but 20 to 40 years suspended.
His jury trial was scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Solonka, 15 was reported missing on Aug. 9, 2017 and found dead in a trash can in a wooded area about a week later. Medical examiners ruled the girl was strangled before her body was dumped in the garbage, local television station WBAL reported.
Perry was 16 years old at the time of the killing, according to CBS Baltimore.
Perry was not charged as a suspect until nearly a year later, when investigators used DNA analysis on "multiple items that were recovered during the investigation," police said according to the Sun.
"Mr. Perry was charged with murdering Maleigha Solonka after multiple items that were recovered during the investigation underwent DNA analysis," Harford County State's Attorney Albert J. Peisinger Jr. said in a statement Tuesday night obtained by Patch.com. "The Office of the State's Attorney for Harford County sends its deepest condolences to the victim's family for the tragic loss they have suffered."
Solonka's grandmother and guardian Donna Elliott told the outlet she was stunned by the plea.
"I do not think there is ever closure, I don’t believe in that because you will always grieve for your child,” she said. "Maleigha is getting the justice that she deserves.”
Elliot added that Molonka was involved in a difficult on-again, off-again relationship with Perry that she eventually broke off entirely.
"It has been extremely traumatic not knowing, depressing because everything kept getting postponed,” Elliott said. "My whole family is forever broken, but we can try to put some pieces back together.”
“She was very ambitious, beautiful, loved by everyone she met,” Elliot said of Molonka to CBS Baltimore.
Attorneys representing Perry did not respond to requests for comment from the Baltimore Sun. He is set to be sentenced on June 4, according to Patch.
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