Kiaya Campbell’s life was cut short at 10 years when Aidan Zellmer, the son of her father’s girlfriend, killed her two years ago. The 17-year-old is currently facing a life sentence with the possibility of parole after serving 40 years.
Earlier this month, Zellmer pleaded guilty to the murder of the then 10-year-old. At the time of the murder, he was 15 and was charged as a juvenile, but his case was later transferred to an adult court.
During sentencing, the defense attorney highlighted Zellmer’s troubling family history, abuse, and mental health issues.
Although his sentence offers the possibility of parole after 40 years, he has a chance of getting out in 30 years with good behavior, according to Dave Young, the Adams County District Attorney.
However, Young and Kiaya’s family members didn’t consider the defense’s claims to be a viable excuse for the teen’s actions. Zellmer brutally struck Kiaya five times and left her to die, then later lied to search teams and officials about her whereabouts and what happened to her.
Attorneys played a video of Kiaya singing and dancing, and her mother Chantel Campbell revealed that she carries the video around with her everywhere to watch during times when she misses her daughter. The victim’s family wore the child’s favorite colors, pink and teal, when they sat at the courtroom behind prosecutors as her grandparents and mother shared stories about her spirit, goofiness, and smile.
Chantel mentions that it wasn’t enough that Zellmer would spend 40 years in prison, and couldn’t understand why he would do what he did despite not being fully mature and not having the ability to make the right decisions. During the court appearances, Chantel watched an emotionless Zellmer, who was unwilling to take responsibility for his actions.