A Utah man who raped and murdered his own 5-year-old niece was told by a judge that he'll never "breathe free air again" as he received a life sentence without parole.
Alexander William Whipple, 21, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to kidnapping, rape of a child, sodomy of a child and murder in the death of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley.
Before the sentencing, Whipple’s attorney Shannon Demler argued in favor of parole, claiming Whipple was the victim of abuse and had mental health and substance abuse issues.
“This train wreck had been building for years,” Demler said, adding that “deep inside, he has some good qualities,” a reporter for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City tweeted on Tuesday.
Judge Kevin Allen clearly focused more on Whipple’s negative qualities.
“You will never see the light of day,” Allen told him before the sentencing, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. “You will never breathe free air again. What you did was so abhorrent and vile that you must spend the rest of your life in prison.”
The child’s family also addressed Whipple in court.
“You are filth,” Zachary Black, another one of the child’s uncles, told Whipple. “I hope you spend the rest of your life in a tiny box.”
Shelley went missing on May 26 and just days later her little body was found in a wooded area blocks from her house. Whipple told investigators where to find her in an effort to avoid the death penalty.
At the girl’s funeral, Shelley was remembered as a nature-loving, patient child. Her white coffin paid homage to her interest in nature –– it was covered in rainbow butterflies flying by the phrase "Live like Lizzy.”
In court on Tuesday, the little girl's mother Jessica Black, who is Whipple's sister, said, “I would give anything to be reunited with her, to hug her and hold her one more time," according to the Herald Journal in Logan, Utah.
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