LOGAN, Utah (KSTU) -- Alex Whipple has pleaded guilty to some of the charges filed against him in connection with the rape and murder of 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley.
A preliminary hearing on Tuesday in Logan quickly turned into an announcement of a plea deal. In exchange for pleading guilty to aggravated murder, child kidnapping, rape of a child and sodomy upon a child, other charges were dismissed.
The State of Utah will not seek the death penalty as a punishment for 21-year old Whipple, not only as part of Tuesday's plea deal but also as part of a deal in which Whipple agreed to disclose the location of Shelley's body, ending a search that lasted several days.
Prosecutors, for the first time, disclosed how they believe Shelley was killed.
In court, they explained Shelley was stabbed in the back with a knife, which pierced her lungs. Her lungs filled with blood, prosecutors said, causing her to drown.
They also laid out the evidence found for rape and sodomy. They said they believe Whipple kidnapped Shelley from her room after her mother and her mother's boyfriend went to sleep on May 25. They said Whipple took her to away from the home, then detained her and sexually assaulted her.
Two counts of obstructing justice and one count of abuse or desecration of a human body were dismissed as part of the plea deal. A separate court case which included six charges from when sheriff's deputies first arrested Whipple, was also dismissed.