A Utah man suspected in the 2012 abduction, rape, and murder of a 6-year-old girl learned his fate in court last week.
Deseret News reports that a judge sentenced 47-year-old Terry Lee Black on Thursday to 25 years to life for aggravated murder, 15 years to life for child kidnapping, and 25 years to life for rape of a child. The three sentences are to run consecutively.
According to People magazine, authorities said Black entered a West Jordan home at 3 a.m. on June 26, 2012, using a sliding back door. He left the residence 10 minutes later carrying Sierra Newbold. Charging documents obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune stated that he beat Newbold, raped, and strangled her before leaving her to drown in a canal near her home.
The 6-year-old’s body was discovered hours after the abduction. Her body showed signs of strangulation and sexual assault, according to the magazine.
The Tribune reported that Black was arrested three days later on suspicion of being involved in an unrelated bank robbery. Prosecutors said it was then when investigators noticed soot and debris on Black’s hands and boots that resembled that items found in the field where Newbold’s clothes were also located.
“It was that piece that allowed that to happen, and subsequently we were able to do search warrants to match the DNA and connect him back to the murder of the victim,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told People. “His DNA matched the DNA found on the victim’s body.”
Black entered Alford pleas for the three charges, meaning he acknowledges he likely would have been convicted but is still allowed to maintain his innocence.
Third District Judge Douglas Hogan wrote that Black has schizophrenia and another unspecified psychotic disorder but found he can enter a plea as he “has a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings against him,” according to Deseret News.
As a result of the plea agreement, prosecutors will not seek the death penalty. The Tribune reported that the ex-mine foreman was forcibly medicated at Utah State Hospital the same year as the abduction and murder.
“There’s no way to fix this,” the judge said in court Thursday. “It’s impossible.”
June 26, 2012 is a day our community won't forget. Sierra Newbold was taken from her home as she slept in the middle of…
[Featured image: Terry Lee Black/Handout; Sierra Newbold/West Jordan Police Department]