WEST JORDAN — A West Jordan man housed in the Utah State Hospital for years admitted Thursday there is enough evidence to convict him of kidnapping a 6-year-old girl from the bedroom of her West Jordan home in 2012, then raping and murdering her.
Terry Lee Black, 47, entered Alford pleas to aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child, meaning he believes a jury would likely find him guilty of the crimes but he denies them.
Third District Judge Douglas Hogan sentenced him to at least 65 years and up to life in prison Thursday, moments after determining that Black was finally mentally competent to stand trial.
Black has schizophrenia and another unspecified psychotic disorder, but "has a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings against him," Hogan wrote in the order. Black can consult with his attorneys and understand the charges against him, Hogan determined.
Black was repeatedly found incompetent after multiple evaluations, meaning he legally could not understand the charges against him or communicate with his attorneys as they defended him in court in Sierra Newbold's death. The judge in 2015 ordered he be committed to the Utah State Hospital.
Last summer, his attorneys told the judge that an evaluator believed Black was "making reasonable progress toward restoration" after treatment at the hospital.
Police say Black sneaked through a sliding glass door into the Newbolds' West Jordan home at 3:05 a.m. on June 26, 2012, and was seen on a security camera carrying Sierra out of the home at 3:13 a.m. From there, the young child was raped, strangled and drowned in a nearby canal.
Black was arrested three days later after police say he robbed a West Jordan bank using a stolen car. Investigators said Black attended the same ward as the Newbolds in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his apartment was near the canal where she was found.
Black was charged with aggravated murder, a capital offense, as well as child kidnapping and rape of a child, all first-degree felonies. As part of an agreement with prosecutors and in exchange for the guilty pleas, charges of child sexual abuse and theft were dropped, court documents show.
Prosecutors say evidence of the grisly crimes was strong, but they entered into the agreement allowing Black to deny them in order to prevent any further delays or any appeals of his convictions.
"Competency is always a fluid issue. We could be in the middle of a trial and competency could destabilize," said Salt Lake County prosecutor Matthew Janzen. "While he was presently competent, we made an effort to bring closure to this case for the family and resolve it."
Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill agreed, calling the case "an incredible tragedy."
He said the resolution allows Sierra's family members "to move on with their lives and to get Mr. Black into where he belongs, which is in a prison, with a lengthy sentence."
The judge ordered Black on Thursday to serve two sentences of at least 25 years and up to life on the aggravated murder and rape of a child charges, and at least 15 years to life on the child kidnapping count. Hogan ordered the sentences to run consecutively and granted Black credit for the time he has served since 2012.