CLEVELAND-- Opening statements were Thursday morning for the man accused of murdering Alianna DeFreeze.
Christopher Whitaker, 44, is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and rape in the brutal murder of the 14-year-old about one year ago.
On Jan. 26, 2017, Alianna was kidnapped on her way to school. She was last seen getting off an RTA bus on East 93rd Street and Kinsman. Her mother reported her missing when she learned the girl didn't show up for school.
There was an all-out search for the teen, but three days later, her body was found in an abandoned home.
DNA from the crime scene led detectives to Whitaker, a registered sex offender. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
During opening statements, prosecutors said Alianna was still alive when she suffered many of her injuries. Whitaker confessed to detectives in a recorded interview, which will be played for the jury.