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A Mills man on Friday morning admitted to sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl.

During a hearing in Natrona County District Court, Jonah J. Decker pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor. He also entered an Alford plea to a single count of first-degree sexual abuse.

An Alford plea is a legal mechanism by which a person pleads guilty but may maintain their innocence. In doing so, a defendant admits that prosecutors would likely convict them at trial, but is not required to admit they committed the act they are pleading guilty to.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss six additional felonies in exchange for Decker’s pleas. They also agreed to cap their sentencing arguments to 20-30 years imprisonment. The three sentences he serves will run at the same time.

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Defense attorney Tim Cotton will be allowed to argue for whatever sentence he deems appropriate.

After Decker entered his pleas, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri told Judge Kerri Johnson that the girl had said Decker went into her room around Christmas and sexually abused her. Taheri said Decker wrote an apology letter to the girl saying he was intoxicated at the time but did not specify what he was apologizing for.

Decker then told the judge he had twice touched the girl “on the outside of her clothes” covering her genitals.

Sheriff’s deputies then led Decker out of the courtroom and back toward the Natrona County Detention Center, where he is being held in advance of sentencing.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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