Utah man pleads guilty to murder of 10-year-old

August 12, 2011 - 6:29 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man pleaded guilty to murder Friday in the 1998 stabbing death of a 10-year-old girl, after authorities said DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

Matthew John Breck, 32, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he entered the guilty plea in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City.

In exchange for the plea, Breck avoids a potential death sentence. Prosecutors also dropped a felony charge of aggravated sex with a child.

Breck was arrested and extradited to Utah from an Idaho prison in 2010 after police used DNA testing to link him to the death of Anna Palmer. At the time, he was serving a sentence for a 2001 conviction of child sodomy.

Palmer was found unconscious and bleeding on the front porch of her Salt Lake City home on Sept. 10, 1998. The girl suffered five fatal stab wounds to the throat, including one that severed her spinal cord.

Nancy Palmer, the girl's mother, said after the hearing the plea was an important part of the family's healing.

"Hopefully now we can look past the death and remember the good things," she said. "The most important thing was that justice was done and the person responsible is being held accountable and will be there for the rest of his life."