16-year-old pleads guilty to murder of 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell in 2017

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BRIGHTON, Colo. — The teenager accused of killing a 10-year-old Thornton girl pleaded guilty first-degree murder on Friday and is facing life in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

Aidan Zellmer, 16, was charged as an adult in the death of Kiaya Campbell on June 7, 2017, after they left her father’s home to go to a shopping center.

Neighbors found her battered body in a ravine the next day. She had been beaten to death, according to an Adams County Coroner’s Office autopsy report.

Campbell suffered multiple blunt-force injuries to the head as well as wounds to several fingers, according to an autopsy report.

Two days later, officers arrested Zellmer, who was 15 at the time and lived in the same home in the 12400 block of Forest Drive in Thornton.

His mother was in a relationship with Campbell’s father at the time.

Zellmer was facing four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual assault on a child. All of the charges were dropped with the guilty plea.

Zellmer will be eligible for parole after 40 years. He will be sentenced on March 11.

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