- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - An 18-year-old Colorado man accused of killing his teenage girlfriend in Utah because he thought she was pregnant pleaded guilty to murder Monday, a week before his trial was set to begin.

Darwin “Christopher” Bagshaw was 14 when the girl’s battered body was found floating in a river near Salt Lake City.

Prosecutors say 15-year-old Anne Kasprzak suffered blows that crushed her face and head after she told people she was pregnant and her boyfriend didn’t seem to want the baby. Medical examiners later found that she wasn’t pregnant, and her family said she’d lied about her condition.

Bagshaw appeared in court wearing a dark blue jail jumpsuit with his hands shackled in front of him, his light brown hair cut short. His lawyers apologized for entering the plea on the eve of trial, but said Bagshaw wanted to take responsibility for her death.

“As an 18 year old, I can’t image trying to decide if I’m going to potentially serve life in prison,” said defense attorney Christopher Bown. His client is facing at least 15 years, and Bown plans to raise questions about whether a long prison sentence is right for a teenage offender at a sentencing hearing set for April 25.

Kasprzak’s family said they long suspected the slight, shy teenager knew more about his girlfriend’s death than he told police.

“I would like him to remember that every moment he gets to have, Anne doesn’t get to have,” mother Veronica Kasprzak said.

Kasprzak’s body was found floating in the Jordan River after a jogger noticed blood on a footbridge in Draper, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. An autopsy showed she suffered multiple blows that crushed her face and head.

Bagshaw’s arrest came more than two years after the girl’s death, after he moved from Utah to Grand Junction, Colorado, with his family. The investigation was thrown off by a fake tip that led them to arrest two ex-convicts in their mid-30s, police said. After clearing the two men, investigators say they circled back to Bagshaw and confirmed that blood found on his shoelace belonged to her.

Police had first grown suspicious of Bagshaw when detectives went to question him shortly after her death and noticed he was wearing new shoes. When they asked for his old shoes, he volunteered that Kasprzak had gotten a nosebleed at a friend’s house and dripped blood on his shoelace.

He asked his friend to back up that story, but investigators couldn’t find any evidence that it happened, prosecutors said.

Bagshaw was originally charged as a juvenile, but prosecutors pushed to try him as an adult and a judge agreed to move the case to adult court. Bagshaw pleaded guilty to a straight felony murder charge, with prosecutors agreeing only to recommend he get credit for the time he’s served since his arrest in October 2014.

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