CLEVELAND -- A jury convicted Christopher Whitaker for the aggravated murder of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze Tuesday.
Whitaker, 44, was also found guilty of all other counts, including rape, kidnapping and gross abuse of a corpse.
His defense team did not contest the charges against him as Whitaker admitted to the crimes and detailed them to investigators.
Instead, Whitaker's attorneys argued he was high when he killed Alianna. They also noted that Whitaker was remorseful and cooperative with police. But prosecutors countered that Whitaker made a choice to get high and that his crimes against Alianna were premeditated, because he had a variety of tools stored in the house where he tortured and killed her. Those tools, including a screwdriver, drill and knife, were displayed before the court during the trial.
Alianna went missing from a bus stop in the area of E. 93rd Street and Kinsman Road last January. Her body was found inside an abandoned home on Fuller Avenue. Prosecutors say she had been raped, beaten and tortured prior to her death.
Alianna's family has since pushed for new legislation that would require schools to immediately alert parents and guardians when a child doesn't show up for school. The DeFreeze family says Alianna's school waited until the afternoon to alert them of Alianna's absence.
Whitaker is scheduled for sentencing next Wednesday. He now faces the death penalty.