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Lizzy Shelley’s killer sentenced to life in prison without parole

FILE - In this June 4, 2019, file photo, the casket for Elizabeth "Lizzy" Shelley is carried following her funeral services, in Logan, Utah. Alex Whipple, a Utah man who pleaded guilty to killing his 5-year-old niece has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. The girl's relatives called him a "monster" during an emotional hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

LOGAN, Utah — “You will never breathe fresh air again”

That is what Judge Kevin K. Allen told 22-year-old Alex Whipple when handing down his sentence in a Logan courtroom: life in prison without the possibility of parole, along with three consecutive sentences of 25-years-to-life in prison.

Whipple had pleaded guilty earlier to aggravated murder, child kidnapping, rape of a child, and sodomy of a child.

Logan Police say he took 5-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shelley from her family’s home May 25th, attacked her, then buried her in a shallow grave a short distance from the house.

He told investigators through his attorney where she was buried days later in exchange for prosecutors dropping the death penalty.

Despite the deal, Whipple’s attorney asked the judge for the chance for probation, highlighting Whipple’s abusive home life growing up. He also claimed his client was blacked out drunk during the crime.

But Shelley’s relatives were not so kind to Whipple, who hung his head and sometimes cried when angry words were directed at him.

“How could someone do this to their own niece?… There are few things that are more vile than your actions,” another of Shelley’s uncles, DJ Smith, said.

Judge Allen indicated that he did not believe Whipple’s contention that he’d blacked out, and denied the defense’s request for parole.

Jessica Shelley was not in the courtroom to hear her brother’s sentence, though a victim impact statement was read on her behalf.

Talking to reporters afterward, she shared memories of her daughter, but also spoke about how difficult it has been for her.

“The loss of our Lizzy is a space in my heart that can’t be filled.  I would give anything to be reunited with her and hug her one more time,” Shelley said.