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The Latest: Slain girl’s grandma says guilty plea is relief

December 18, 2018

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — The Latest on a guilty plea in the case of a Bullhead City girl who was killed in 2014 (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The grandmother of a Bullhead City girl who was killed in 2014 says she’s relieved the defendant has pleaded guilty.

Justin James Rector pleaded guilty Tuesday to a first-degree murder charge in the death of 8-year-old Isabella “Bella” Grogan.

Her grandmother, Toni Page, says she had grown frustrated waiting for justice.

Page says she often visits the site where the girl’s body was found in a shallow grave a day after she was reported missing. She says she maintains a cross, and leaves candy for Halloween and a stocking at Christmas time.

She called the girl her “sunshine” and says she was full of life.

Bullhead City police Chief Brian Williamson says Isabella’s death deeply affected the whole community. He says he’s glad the family has closure.

11:30 a.m.

A man charged in the killing of an 8-year-old Bullhead City girl has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Justin James Rector entered the plea Tuesday after deciding earlier this month to represent himself in the case.

The 30-year-old faces life in prison. Sentencing is set for Jan. 30.

Rector also had been charged with kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a body in the death of Isabella Grogan-Cannella, and assaulting a jail officer in 2017. Those charges were dropped as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Rector was a guest in the girl’s home when she went missing in September 2014. Police said she had been strangled and left in a shallow grave near her home.

Rector had been scheduled to go on trial in April.

Update hourly