BRIGHTON, Colo. — The teenager who pleaded guilty last month to killing a 10-year-old Thornton girl was sentenced to life in prison on Monday with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Aidan Zellmer, 17, 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.
As part of a plea deal, Zellmer pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder after deliberation on Feb. 1.
“In 27 years as a prosecutor, I have never seen a 15-year-old commit such a violent act,” 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young said.
An Amber Alert was issued and a massive search was launched.
Neighbors found her battered body in a ravine behind homes near 128th Avenue and Jasmine Street the next day.
She had been beaten to death, according to an Adams County Coroner’s Office autopsy report.
According to an affidavit released after Adams County District Judge Sharon Holbrook imposed the mandatory sentencing, Zellmer and Campbell left the house to go steal Pokeman cards and candy.
The affidavit showed Zellmer hit Campbell in the head five times with a metal pipe and dragged her into a ditch, leaving her there to die.
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Campbell suffered multiple blunt-force injuries to the head as well as wounds to several fingers, according to the autopsy report.
The affidavit said Campbell’s body was found naked from the waist down and there was evidence of a sexual assault, though the sex crime charges were later dismissed as part of the plea deal.
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, by using blood and DNA on his shoes that tied him to the murder.
His mother was in a relationship with Campbell’s father at the time.
“Kiaya will not be forgotten,” Holbrook told the family.