Sex offender convicted in rape, murder of 14-year-old girl

CLEVELAND (AP) — A registered sex offender has been convicted of raping and killing a 14-year-old Ohio girl and could face the death penalty.

Jurors on Tuesday found 45-year-old Christopher Whitaker guilty of aggravated murder and charges including kidnapping and rape in Alianna DeFreeze's death. Her body was found in an abandoned home in Cleveland in January 2017, three days after her mother reported her missing when she didn't arrive at school.

Authorities say Alianna was beaten and stabbed and the South Euclid man's DNA matched evidence.

Whitaker told investigators he was high on cocaine and blacked out. His attorney has said Whitaker is remorseful and doesn't contest the charges. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Jurors will determine whether to recommend the death penalty in the penalty phase.