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A Utah man accused of murdering his five-year-old niece appeared in court to face capital murder charges as the victim's family prepares to lay her body to rest.
Alexander Whipple, 21, wore an emotionless expression with his prison-issued jumpsuit as he faced a judge in Cache County Court on Monday, less than one week after he led police to the dirt-covered body of Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Shelley, just yards from her home in Logan.
Murder - Capital - Offense - Felony - Child
He has been charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense, as well as first-degree felony child kidnapping, third-degree desecration of a human body, and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Lizzy's heartbroken family did not attend the hearing on the eve of the youngster's funeral being held Tuesday.
Anyone - Tuesday - Afternoon - Service - Wildflowers
They have urged anyone who attends the Tuesday afternoon service to bring wildflowers, noting: 'Lizzy loved to pick flowers.'
Lizzy was last seen at around 2am on May 25 while Whipple was staying at her home.
Morning - Family - Awoke - Uncle - Door
She was reported missing the next morning after her family awoke and found that both she and her uncle were gone and the front door was wide open. Whipple quickly became the number one suspect in her disappearance.
The girl had been missing for five days before Whipple was charged in her disappearance last Wednesday.
Prosecutors - Deal - Defendant - Death - Penalty
Prosecutors struck a deal with the defendant under which they agreed not to seek the death penalty against him if he led them to Lizzy's body.
The corpse was found buried under leaves and debris in a wooded area about a quarter-mile from the home where she was last seen.
Cache - County - Attorney - James - Swink
Cache County Attorney James Swink said that recovering Lizzy's remains was essential to bringing her family closure.
'As mothers know even better than fathers, not to have the body of your child, you just can't cope with that,'...
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