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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After a Coon Rapids man pleaded guilty to abducting, sexually assaulting and murdering a 5-year-old girl in 2016, he was immediately sentenced to life in prison without possibility of release.
On Friday, Zachary Anderson appeared in Cass County District Court and entered a plea of guilty to first-degree murder involving first degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to the August 2016 death of Alayna Ertl.
His sentence was handed down after several family members gave victim impact statements. The sentence of life in prison is the mandatory penalty for the type of crime committed.
Due to the guilty plea and life sentence, a jury trial on the remaining counts was deemed not necessary.
According to the criminal complaint, Anderson spent the night at the Ertls’ home Aug. 19, 2016 after playing softball with Alayna’s father. Alayna’s parents reported her missing the morning of Aug. 20. The Ertls also reported their vehicle missing.
On a tip from Anderson’s father, police found Anderson in his family’s cabin 80 miles from Watkins. They also found the Ertls’ vehicle there, according to the complaint.
Anderson led police to Alayna’s body, the complaint states. The complaint also states Anderson sexually assaulted the girl.