The accused killer of 6-year-old Sierra Newbold — kidnapped from her West Jordan home, raped and left for dead in 2012 — has made a plea deal with prosecutors and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Terry Lee Black and his attorneys entered Alford pleas Thursday to felony charges of aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child. An Alford plea is similar to a “no contest” plea, in which a defendant maintains his or her innocence but acknowledges that prosecutors probably have enough evidence to convict.
Third District Judge L. Douglas Hogan sentenced Black on the charges to 25 years to life, 15 years to life and 25 years to life, respectively.
The sentences are to run consecutively. Black, 47, technically will be eligible for parole someday but will probably be in prison for the rest of his life.
Sierra Newbold’s mother, Kathy Newbold, vowed during a tearful reading of her victim statement that, "I will be at every parole hearing to make sure my daughter has a voice, and that Mr. Black is not paroled.”
“Our family has never and will never be the same," said Brad Newbold, Sierra’s father. "There is such a hole in my heart.”
Two of Sierra’s sisters also spoke at Thursday’s hearing, and prosecutor Matthew Janzen read a statement from a younger sibling.
Black did not speak at the hearing, other than to answer “yes” or “no” to the judge’s questions, and to say the word “guilty" three times in response to the three counts against him.
Prosecutors agreed in 2017 not to seek the death penalty against Black in order for efforts to establish his mental competency to stand trial to go forward.
Black was accused of kidnapping Newbold from her West Jordan home, a block away from his own home, on June 26, 2012. In charging documents, prosecutors said Black beat Sierra, raped and strangled her, then left her in a nearby canal where she drowned.
Black was arrested three days later on the suspicion that he had been involved in an unrelated bank robbery. Investigators at the time noticed soot and debris on his clothing and his hands that were similar to materials in the field where the girl’s clothes were found. Lab results later found that Black’s DNA matched DNA found on Newbold’s body, prosecutors said.
In 2016, Black was found not competent to stand trial, and Hogan in 2017 ordered him to be forcibly medicated at the Utah State Hospital. Before the plea was entered Thursday, Hogan ruled that Black was competent to stand trial and that the case could proceed. A doctor who had been treating Black testified Thursday that he had received an anti-psychotic drug and an anti-depressant since 2016.