A Wayne County man accused of killing a 9-year-old neighbor girl in December has been sentenced to consecutive life sentences.
Jerrod Metsker, 25, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Common Pleas Court in Wooster to aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping charges. He is not eligible for parole.
Prosecutor Dan Lutz said the family of Reann Murphy approved the plea, which eliminated a possible death sentence.
“We were abiding by their wishes,” Lutz said. “They did not wish for the death penalty.”
Metsker, whom authorities described as family friend of the girl, apologized in court.
Investigators with the county sheriff’s office had said earlier that Metsker has a “diminished mental capacity” but didn’t release information of a specific diagnosis. The finding could have made it difficult to get a death sentence, Lutz said.
Reann’s body was found in a trash bin at the Smithville trailer park where she lived with her mother.
Residents said Metsker often played outside with the neighborhood children and that he built a playhouse out of blankets, where he’d spend time with youngsters less than half his age.
Reann and her mother moved into the trailer park around the beginning of the school year, relatives said.
On the day she died, the girl had been at home with her mother’s live-in boyfriend while her mother was at work, authorities said. Reann went outside to play in the snow and was with several other children in the trailer park’s courtyard, but the others went home, leaving Metsker alone with her.
Metsker later reported Reann missing in a 911 call as neighbors searched the area. Her body was found a day later. Wayne County sheriff’s officials said the girl was raped and strangled, probably at Metsker’s home.