Anderson pleads guilty to rape, murder of 5-year-old girl

MEEKER COUNTY, MN – Murder suspect Zachary Todd Anderson pleaded guilty Friday to the 2016 rape and slaying of Alayna Ertl, 5, and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole, the Star Tribune reported.

The sudden end to the prosecution of Anderson, 27, of Monticello, came about when his attorneys signaled that he would admit to the crime, Cass County prosecutor Ben Lindstrom said.

“This is a case where we weren’t going to make a compromise,” said Lindstrom, who was preparing to argue for a life sentence for Anderson in a trial scheduled for April.

Alayna was taken from her Watkins home in Meeker County Aug. 20, 2016, and found dead later that day on property the Anderson family owned near Motley, about 80 miles to the north in rural Cass County.

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