WALKER, Minn. — A man accused of abducting and killing a 5-year-old girl from central Minnesota has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.

Zachary Todd Anderson is facing 19 charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct. Anderson was arrested in August 2016 in Cass County after Alayna Ertl was kidnapped from her home in Watkins, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis.

Alayna’s body was found submerged and covered with debris, near a cabin owned by Anderson’s family near Motley. An autopsy found the girl was strangled.

Anderson, who’s from Coon Rapids, was considered a friend of Alayna’s father. KSTP-TV says a jury trial is expected to begin next spring.


Information from: KSTP-TV, http://www.kstp.com

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