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Court OKs move to drop death penalty in Ariz girl’s murder

February 20, 2018

FILE - This Sept. 4, 2014 file photo provided by the Bullhead City, Ariz., Police Department shows Justin James Rector. The death penalty is no longer being sought for Rector, charged with killing an 8-year-old girl in Bullhead City, state prosecutors said Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Bullhead City Police Department,File)

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — A Mohave County Superior Court judge has accepted a decision by Arizona state prosecutors to no longer seek the death penalty they had earlier sought for a man charged with killing an 8-year-old girl in Bullhead City.

Court documents show that Judge Lee F. Jantzen agreed Tuesday to accept the motion by prosecutors to withdraw their intention to seek the death penalty for Justin James Rector. They have said they nevertheless will still seek a first-degree murder conviction whenever Rector’s long-delayed trial is held.

The Bullhead City man is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a dead body in the September 2014 death of Isabella Grogan-Cannella.

She was strangled and her partially clothed body was found in a shallow grave near her Bullhead City home.

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