A judge has ordered the maximum sentence of 74 years in prison for the ringleader in the death of a 15-year-old girl. 20-year-old Michael Anderson had pleaded guilty to second degree murder and first degree assault in the May 2001 death of Maria Jean Cooksey.
Anderson admitted strangling Cooksey and hitting her head with the blunt side of a hatchet in his apartment. Authorities later found her body in an irrigation ditch with duct tape over her mouth.
Anderson was originally charged with first degree murder, along with 19-year-old Edward Anthony Lucero and 22-year-old Gene August Nummer.
Nummer pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a 48-year prison sentence. Lucero pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder and was sentenced in July to nine years in prison. Lucero says he froze with fear when Anderson unexpectedly attacked the girl.