The man who stabbed his 6-year-old daughter in the heart along the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2016 has pleaded guilty to first degree murder, the US Attorney’s Office said Friday.
Seth Willis Pickering, 38, of Leicester entered the plea in federal court on Friday.
Pickering killed his daughter, Lila Pickering, on September 9, 2016 as park rangers were approaching him as he walked with the girl. Park rangers said they saw him lung at the child and then she fell to the ground with a knife sticking out of her chest. Rangers said Pickering told them that he killed the child so "...they will never be able to take her away from me." The child was in protective custody at the time and Pickering took the child from her custodian's house without permission earlier that day.
Pickering will be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crime.
Lila's grandmother, Cindy Dabill, said multiple family members wanted to see Pickering given the death penalty.
“It’s really hard because right now it’s coming to a close, but to me it’s not justice and brings no closure," Dabill said. "Knowing he gets to wake up every day and breathe fresh air.”
“Our hearts go out to Lila’s family. No action by the criminal justice system can soothe the pain of their loss,” US Attorney Murray stated in a news release. “This is an outcome reached after consideration of all the facts and circumstances of this case. By allowing the defendant to plead guilty and serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole, we will spare the family the trauma of a lengthy trial and decades of appeals. We hope this resolution brings some comfort to the family of Lila Pickering.”
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