OGDEN — A man accused of raping and killing an 11-year-old Ogden girl in 1983 pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of rape and manslaughter.
Shortly after Gregory Seamons, 46, entered his plea in Utah's 2nd District Court, Judge Mark DeCaria sentenced him to serve five years to life in prison.
On March 2, 1983, Rebecca Lemberger left her Ogden home, 750 N. 665 East, to walk to Edison Elementary School a few blocks away. When she did not return home, her parents went to look for her. They soon learned that Rebecca had not shown up for school at all that day and her friends had not seen her.
The next day, her body was found wrapped in a tarp in a nearby shed. She had been sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a rock, authorities said.
Seamons was 15 at the time.
The case was cold until 2011, when DNA from the scene was matched with Seamons' DNA, which was in a national database.
In the courtroom Thursday, Seamons cried after the mother of 11-year-old Rebecca said she forgave him for her daughter's death.
"I understand you were 15 years old. I don't understand why, but I forgive you," Nola Mahon said.
Seamons cried in response.
"I've thought about it for a long time, and these tears are too late. Nothing I can do can fix this," he said. "I don't expect the family's forgiveness."
He also told the court he wanted to clear his late father's name. In 2012, Seamons wrote a letter that said he suspected his father killed the girl.
The judge too became emotional at the sentencing, the Standard-Examiner reported.
"This case has been on the minds of the community for 30 years and has been a part of my entire career," DeCaria said. "I cannot understand how you can look this man in the eye and say you forgive him, but I appreciate that."
Seamons' guilty pleas were part of a deal with prosecutors, who agreed to reduce a murder charge to manslaughter. Prosecutor Chris Shaw said the deal was fair because Seamons was a minor at the time of the crime.
DeCaria sentenced Seamons to serve terms of one to 15 years and five years to life at the same time for the two charges. The terms will also run concurrently with a prison term Seamons has been serving in Idaho for a 2007 kidnapping conviction.
After his term in Idaho is complete in 2017, Seamons will be transferred to Utah's prison system.