Florida man pleads guilty to molesting, murdering girl

Family says Somer's killer a 'monster'
Family says Somer's killer a 'monster'

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Family says Somer's killer a 'monster' 02:12

Story highlights

  • "Your name is monster," a girl says of her sister's killer
  • Jarred Harrell pleads guilty to murder, kidnapping and sexual battery
  • Somer Thompson was found in a Georgia landfill about 55 miles from where she was last seen
  • Her mother says of Harrell, "May God have mercy on your sorry, sorry soul"
A Florida man pleaded guilty Friday to kidnapping, molesting and murdering a 7-year-old girl more than two years ago, an admission that elicited anger, disbelief and contempt from the slain's child's relatives.
As part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors, Jarred Harrell was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole, waiving his right to appeal, after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation. He admitted in court that he made the agreement in order to avoid potentially facing a death penalty.
"You're not even a human being," the victim's sister said in court after Harrell's plea. "Your name is not Jarred Harrell. Your name is monster."
She was one of several relatives of Somer Thompson who took the stand in the tear-filled courtroom Friday to give victim's impact statements. Several of them noted that Harrell refused to look at them, including the slain girl's twin brother.
"She trusted you, but you had to do what you did and look where it got you. And now you're going to jail," yelled out the boy, now 9, after trying to stare down his sister's killer.
Man pleads guilty in 7-year-old's murder
Man pleads guilty in 7-year-old's murder

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Man pleads guilty in 7-year-old's murder 02:43
Somer Thompson went missing in October 2009 in the Clay County town of Orange Park, Florida.
Her sister, then 10, told police that Thompson had been in a fight with another girl at school that day and had brought up the subject while she and her brother walked her home.
Thompson ran off, apparently upset. The older sister said she lost sight of her in a group of other children leaving the school, according to a police report.
Days later, Thompson's body was found about 55 miles north of Orange Park in a landfill in Folkston, Georgia.
In February 2010, Harrell was arrested in Meridian, Mississippi, by federal agents following a search of his Florida residence, Clay County authorities said. He was charged with 29 counts of child pornography, and eventually was extradited to Florida.
A few weeks later, on April 1, 2010, Harrell was indicted on the four additional counts -- first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation -- related to the disappearance and death.
In the indictment, prosecutors said Harrell, now 26, killed the girl "by asphyxiation with blunt force injuries." He also "forcibly or by threat" held the girl "against her will and without lawful authority," the document states.
Harrell initially pleaded not guilty to all the charges -- from the murder to the child pornography counts -- before changing his plea on the various counts on Friday.
Succinctly answering questions posed by 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Don Lester, Harrell admitted to the facts of the crime, including taking video and pictures of Somer Thompson.
Prosecutor Steve Nelson noted that there were "numerous consultations" with Somer's relatives about the plea deal, and that several law enforcement agencies were included in the process.
The slain girl's mother, Diena Thompson, said she couldn't bring herself to forgive what Harrell did to "an innocent child."
"835 days ago, you lured my baby into your lair with trickery and malice in your soul," the mother said, after following her son to the stand to give the final victim's impact statement. "All to commit unspeakable acts of your own selfish desires and flat-out evilness."
Diena Thompson added that Harrell took her daughter's dignity, virginity and then life, "and after all that, you then treated my child like trash."
"It is now time to take out the trash," she said, referring to Harrell. "May God have mercy on your sorry, sorry soul."