Aaron Noyer, 22, was sentenced to life in prison today for the second-degree murder of Elizabeth Neimeic of Erie, Pa. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop additional charges against Noyer, including aggravated indecent assault, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.
Family members reported Elizabeth missing on the morning of Aug. 1 when they discovered she was not in her bed. According to her parents, they had last seen her about 10 the night before when they tucked her in.
Crime scene investigators found Noyer's finger- and palm prints inside the Neimeics' home, authorities said. When Noyer was brought in for questioning, he allegedly told police he had climbed through the girl's bedroom window to burglarize the home.
During the burglary, Noyer abducted Elizabeth and took her to a nearby area. There, next to a pair of railroad tracks, he removed her clothing and sexually assaulted and strangled her, authorities said. Afterward, Noyer threw the child to the ground at least twice, police said.
Noyer led investigators to the child's remains on Aug. 2, police said.
Daneri had indicated early on that he was going to seek the death penalty for Elizabeth's murder; however a Common Pleas judge recently ruled that Noyer was exempt from execution because his IQ is less than 70.
"The judge found that the defendant met the criteria for mental retardation and could not be put to death," Daneri said. "So, we made an offer to the defendant that he could plead guilty."
According to Daneri, the terms of the plea deal ensure that Noyer will never be granted his freedom.
"He also waived all his appellate rights to challenge the sentence, to challenge any pretrial rulings or to challenge the effectiveness of his attorneys," he said. "All those rights they would have on appeal he waived as part of his agreement."
"About four months ago we matched the DNA taken from the woman victim, who was not murdered, and matched it to him," Daneri said. "We charged him and he pleaded guilty to that crime today."
Noyer has not been sentenced on the rape charge yet. According to the district attorney, he has to undergo a sexual violent predator assessment before that can happen. The assessment must be given in the next 90 days, so sentencing has been scheduled for July 25.