By Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A Bentonville man convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a 6-year-old girl has been sentenced to death.

Zachary Holly, 30, was sentenced Wednesday to die by legal injection in the killing of Jersey Bridgeman in 2012. Holly’s execution date has been set for Nov. 16, 2016, and a mandatory appeal will be filed.

Last week, a Benton County Circuit Court jury of seven men and five women found Holly guilty of capital murder, kidnapping, rape and residential burglary. Jurors listened to Holly’s recorded confession in which he admitted to abducting the kindergartner from her bed, and then sexually assaulting and murdering her.

The jury spent several hours Tuesday and Wednesday deliberating Holly’s punishment.

Prosecutors had described Jersey’s death as an “evil deed” that was deserving of the death penalty. Holly’s attorneys had called witnesses up to the stand to detail Holly’s abuse childhood in California in an effort to save his life.

Holly addressed the court Wednesday and read a short statement, saying he wanted to apologize to Jersey’s family, his former wife and his family.

“I hope someday they can find it in their hearts to forgive men. Thank you,” he said.

DesaRae Crouch, Jersey’s mother, and other family members cried outside the courthouse following the hearing. Crouch said it was unpleasant to have to sit through the trial.

“I’m disappointed,” Kent McLemore, one of Holly’s attorneys, said of the verdict.

Benton County prosecuting attorney Nathan Smith thanked the jury for its decision.

“It was important for our community to return with this verdict for this crime,” he said.

Jurors leaving the courtroom declined to comment to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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