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Prosecutor Will Seek Life in Prison for Justin DeRyke

The Effingham County, Illinois State's Attorney says he'll seek life in prison for 22-year-old Justin DeRyke.

The Evansville Courier Press reports the Watson, Illinois man appeared in court Thursday where he pled not guilty and a public defender was appointed for him.

He was also advised the state would seek a sentence of life in prison since Illinois no longer has the death penalty.

DeRyke was indicted earlier this week on three counts of first degree murder for the death of his 7-year-old niece Willow Long earlier this month.

DeRyke claims he stabbed Long "to put her out of her misery" after she fell on a brush pile, causing her neck to be impaled by a stick.

However, the results of an autopsy reveal the girl died from stab wounds from a "knife or knives."

The Courier-Press reports the autopsy report makes no mention  of a puncture wound to the victim's neck that would have confirmed DeRyke's account of the incident