An Arizona man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing his friend’s young daughter in 2014.
Justin Rector, 31, of Bullhead City entered the guilty plea about 20 minutes after Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen granted his request to represent himself in further court proceedings.
Rector pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the asphyxiation death of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella in September 2014. Terms of the agreement require imposition of a life prison sentence, though Rector would be eligible for parole after 35 years.
Police and prosecutor Greg McPhillips have said that Rector was left with the victim and her older sister while her mother and others made a shopping run to Walmart. The girl was missing when they returned, and a search led to the recovery of her partially clad body in a makeshift grave about a half-mile from the home from which she disappeared.
Rector told investigators early in the case that he had been up for a couple of days and using methamphetamine at the time of Bella’s disappearance and death.