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US withdraws death penalty in Vt. niece killing

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – Federal prosecutors say they will withdraw plans to seek the death penalty against a Vermont man charged with the 2008 killing of his 12-year-old niece in exchange for a guilty plea and sentence of life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors said Friday they expect 47-year-old Michael Jacques to plead guilty to the death of Brooke Bennett. They did not say when, but a pre-trial hearing had already been scheduled for Thursday in Burlington.

Prosecutors allege Jacques used a girl he had been sexually abusing to lure Brooke to his home sometime after she was last seen leaving a convenience store. They say he drugged, sexually assaulted and killed his niece, then buried her body.

Jacques’ attorney didn’t return calls for comment. Efforts to reach relatives of the victim were unsuccessful.

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