CLEVELAND -- Opening statements in the case of Christopher Whitaker, accused of killing 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze last year, began Thursday morning.

Whitaker, 44, is facing aggravated murder, rape, and kidnapping charges for Alianna's death. He's also charged with burglary, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Police tied Whitaker to the murder via DNA evidence found at the Fuller Avenue home where Alianna's body was found.

Whitaker's defense team is not contesting the charges against him.

Whitaker's attorneys noted that he was cooperative with police when he was taken into custody for Alianna's death. His attorney said Whitaker told police where to find the clothes he was wearing during the killing and offered a sample of his DNA.

Whitakers lawyers also said he admitted to the killing and was under the influence of drugs when it happened. Whitaker allegedly told police he didn't want to "make a circus" out of the case and would "accept responsibility" for his actions.

Alianna had last been seen exiting an RTA bus at the corner of E. 93rd Street and Kinsman Road last January. She was supposed to board a second bud, but never made it. Now, her family is pushing for change via law that would require schools to report missing students early in the day.

The DeFreeze family says her school waited to call them when she didn't show up the day she went missing.

Whitaker has previous convictions for assault and sexual battery.

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