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Plea deal eliminates death penalty for man who killed child

May 18, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A Dell Rapids man accused of killing his 18-month-old stepson has agreed to a plea deal that takes the death penalty off the table.

The Argus Leader reports that 39-year-old Keith Cornett pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder in the December 2016 beating death. Several charges will be dropped, including one for first-degree murder that made Cornett eligible for the death penalty.

Cornett entered an Alford Plea, meaning he doesn’t admit to causing the child’s injuries but acknowledging he could be found guilty at trial.

An autopsy found six blows to the child’s head, as well as bite marks. Cornett said he was “heavily intoxicated” and maintains he doesn’t remember what happened the day the child was killed.

Cornett faces life in prison without parole. Sentencing is scheduled May 30.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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