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A Utah man who pleaded guilty to killing and sexually assaulting his 5-year-old niece was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole Tuesday during an emotional hearing where the girl's relatives called him a 'monster' who savagely took the life of an innocent child.
Judge Kevin K. Allen scolded Alex Whipple, 22, for the 'incomprehensible' terror he inflicted on Elizabeth 'Lizzy' Shelley, her family and the community.
Lizzy - Disappearance - May - Search - Concern
Lizzy's disappearance in May triggered a massive search and widespread concern in the picturesque mountain valley community of Logan.
'You will never see the light of day. You will never breathe fresh air again,' Allen said. 'What you did was so abhorrent and vile that you must spend the rest of your life in prison.'
Whipple - Head - Emotion - Hearing
Whipple declined to speak, hung his head and showed no emotion during the hearing.
He pleaded guilty last month to murder, kidnapping and sexual assault as part of an agreement that dismissed charges of obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.
Whipple - Attorney - Shannon - Demler - Client
Whipple's attorney, Shannon Demler, said his client knew he committed a horrible act and was ready accept his punishment. He said Whipple was raised in an 'imperfect' family, was physically abused as a child and developed mental health and substance abuse issues while being homeless.
Demler asked the judge for a sentence that would give Whipple the chance to get out someday if he was rehabilitated. He said Whipple has seemed like a polite, likable young man in their interactions since the crime.
Demler - People - Room - That
'Deep inside he has some good,' Demler said. 'I know people in this room may not believe that.'
Prosecutors and relatives painted a different picture as a parade of family members came to the podium urging Allen to keep Whipple in prison for life.
'How - Someone - Dejay - Smith - Lizzy
'How could someone do this to their own niece?' said Dejay Smith, Lizzy's uncle. 'I would...
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