Parrish Bennette, who killed Portland teenager Yashanee Vaughn in 2011, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison with no chance of early release.
The 14-year-old victim's family was ready for that to happen in court Thursday, but they weren't prepared for a bombshell revealed by Bennette's lawyer.
He stood up in court and said they knew where Yashanee's body was early on in the investigation, but decided to wait before alerting the authorities.
The attorneys stressed it was their decision, not one made by Bennette.
Bennette opted not to make a statement at his sentencing Thursday after pleading guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea deal. He will be 34 years old when he's out of prison.
Several of the 14-year-old victim's relatives spoke emotionally and tearfully in the Portland courtroom, though Yashanee's mother, Shaquita Louis, was overwhelmed and was unable to speak.
"I got to watch her take her first step and say her first words," said Yashanee's aunt Shawnta Hayes. "This was supposed to be a life-long journey, but you ended that in the worst way possible."
The family said they were not surprised Bennette did not make a statement, apologize or show any remorse in court.
However, they gathered outside the courtroom in shock over what transpired Thursday.
"She laid in two feet of dirt, decomposing and they knew where she was and didn't tell us?" said Yashanee's great aunt Marsha Hayes. "That is sick. That is inhumane."
Yashanee's mother addressed it, as well, after leaving the courtroom.
"I didn't get to bury my daughter like she should've been buried and for them to know and keep his mouth shut, it does not make no sense," Louis said.
Bennette shot and killed Yashanee in March 2011. She was soon reported missing, and at first, police classified her as a runaway.
Once they received information that the teen may have been the victim of foul play, police served search warrants in connection with the case, and found blood and other evidence in Bennette's former home in northeast Portland.
Bennette was arrested March 31, 12 days after Yashanee was last seen alive at a Taco Bell restaurant on 82nd Avenue.
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