Alex Whipple sentenced to life for murder of 5-year-old niece

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LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Alex Whipple will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Tuesday, Whipple learned he will die in prison.  He was sentenced for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of his own niece Lizzy Shelley last May.

For the first time since the death of her daughter, Jessica Shelly spoke to reporters.

“For our family, our lives will never be the same, said Jessica Shelly.  “We will never forget our sweet girl and the happiness and sunshine she brought us.”

Last May, her brother and Lizzy’s uncle was at their Logan home when he took the 5-year-old after everyone went to sleep.

After several days of futile searching, her body was found after Whipple confessed. He led authorities to where her body was.

For that, Whipple’s life was spared after a plea deal was struck.

“If there was ever a justification for the death penalty, this was it,” said James Swink, the Cache County attorney.  “But we wanted to bring her back to her parents so that they could give her a proper burial.”

His attorney, Shannon Demler asked Judge Allen that Whipple be given an opportunity for parole.  He said Whipple was abused and had a difficult upbringing which affected his life.  He said Whipple is 21 years old and after he is rehabilitated he should get an opportunity to be released.

Lizzy’s parents were not in the courtroom.  She said it was too difficult to be there.  But that didn’t stop other relatives from lashing out at Whipple.

“How can someone do something like that to their own niece?” asked DeJay Smith, Lizzy’s Uncle. “I hope never to see this monster again.”

In the end, Judge Allen laid out Whipple’s future.

“We cannot even come close to justifying the horror that you caused on an innocent and defenseless child,” Judge Allen said.

He sentenced Whipple to life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder.  He also sentenced to terms of 25 years to life for each count related to kidnapping, rape, and sodomy.

Her grandfather said justice was served.

 “We are happy the sentence was handed down,” said Norm Black.  “The nature of the crime, we believe, fits the punishment.”

Her mother said Lizzy loved butterflies.  Afterward, family and friends released several in Lizzy’s honor.

“There is so much good for us to do,” said Shelley.  “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.”

WATCH: Lizzy’s mom speaks to reporters following the sentencing>>>

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