Matthew Flugence, 22, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Thursday to brutally stabbing a 6-year old girl in 2013 whose remains were found stuffed into a trashcan in a New Orleans suburb.
The man submitted the plea at a hearing in Gretna and agreed to serve life in prison, avoiding a death sentence, Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office said in a news release.
Connick’s office said that the family of victim Ahlittia (ah-LIHT–ee-ah) North agreed with the specifics of the deal.
“This outcome gives peace to Ahlittia’s family who has been spared the painful experience of reliving the horrible events during the trial,” Connick said. Flugence agreed to waive over his appeal rights in his plea; he will no longer be eligible for probation, parole or anything of that nature.
Ahlittia had disappeared shortly after she was put to bed by her mother and father in Harvey on the night of July 12, 2013. She had been missing for several days when her brutally damaged body (four stab wounds and multiple bruises) was found in the trash can near the apartment. After her body surfaced, an extensive search was conducted by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and other agencies. Sheriff Newell Normand said that the investigation often led to dead ends, with quite a bit of conflicting evidence appearing at every turn. For instance, what “looked like blood spatters in one nearby building turned out to be paint,” Normand said. Mid-way through the investigation, a pool of blood near her home was confimed as Ahlittia’s, but ammunition found nearby turned out to have no relation to the case. The body was finally found in a trashcan that had been searched once before.
Flugence became a suspect after familial ties were discovered between him and the girl’s family–he was a nephew and neighbor of the girl’s stepfather. Flugence’s brother had been arrested earlier for concealing information about his brother’s involvement in the case. Authorities have a confession from Flugence, providing the evidence needed to convict him on the basis of first-degree murder.