PORTLAND - The young man who killed Portland teen Yashanee Vaughn was senteced to 18 years in prison on a manslaughter charge in a plea agreement made public in court Thursday.
The 14-year-old Vaughn disappeared in Northeast Portland on March 19, 2011 and was reported missing by her mother two days later. Police later arrested Parrish Bennette, who was 16 at the time.
Bennette led police to her body on a steep Rocky Butte hillside months later, after an agonizing public campaign by Vaughn's family to reveal where she was.
"I hope you thank God for sparing your life because our niece wasn’t, "Vaughn's aunt said to him in court. "Whatever the issue was, you did it. Look around. How do you feel?"
Raw video: Parrish Bennette sentencing
Defense lawyers said in court Thursday it was their decision to delay revealing where Vaughn's body was.
"For four months they knew where she was and she laid in two feet of dirt decomposing and they knew where she was and wouldn't tell us? That is sick," Vaughn's great aunt Marsha Hayes said.
Bennette has no options for early release and will be 34-years-old when he gets out in 2029.
Vaughn's grandmother Reynelda Hayes said prosecutors told the family this week they were upset over the deal.
An unidentified family member of Vaughn told Bennette that he would "be on the street" when he gets out of prison, before being scolded by the judge. Bennette declined to speak at the sentencing.
The family believes Bennette did not do this crime alone and will always be upset more was not done on Yashanee’s case,” a letter from the family’s spokesperson said.
As first reported in The Oregonian, the plea deal would include an 18-year sentence, compared to a minimum of 25, if convicted of a murder charge.
Prosecutors believe Bennette shot Vaughn twice at his home and covered up the crime scene, where her blood later showed up in forensic testing. They initially planned to try him as an adult in the murder.
Prosecutors said Bennette acted alone and no evidence could be found he had help hiding Vaughn's body.
KGW Reporter Kyle Iboshi contributed to this report