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In Minnesota, Jacob Wetterling's Killer Is Sentenced To 20 Years

An undated photo provided by the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office shows Daniel Heinrich, who admitted in court Tuesday that he killed Jacob Wetterling in 1989.
Sherburne County Sheriff's Office via AP

Danny Heinrich, a 53-year-old man who admitted to killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in 1989, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

As we've reported, Heinrich admitted to the murder almost three decades after Wetterling went missing.

Earlier this fall, Heinrich led police to where he had buried Wetterling's body. As Minnesota Public Radio reports, as part of a plea deal, Heinrich will never face murder charges. He instead pleaded guilty to a federal child pornography charge.

MPR reports:

"While the sentence for Danny Heinrich was as expected, the courtroom scene was gut-wrenching at times as Jacob's family talked about how the 11-year-old's abduction in 1989 and the nearly 30-year quest to find him ripped the fabric of their lives and the lives of the community around their St. Joseph, Minn., home.

" 'I am truly sorry for my evil acts that I have done against victims and their family, and the shame I brought on myself and my family,' Heinrich told the court. 'The suffering and pain they have spoke today I will always remember. Mr and Mrs. Wetterling: the heinous acts, the selfishness are unforgivable for what I have taken away from you.' "

After Heinrich's sentence is over, MPR reports, he might still "be subject to civil commitment as a sex offender."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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