FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - A Fort Smith man charged in the death of his estranged wife has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
Brent Cotta admitted in court Thursday that he strangled 24-year-old Cassie Leigh Cotta at their home in Fort Smith on Dec. 30. Cassie Cotta's body was later found in a rural area in Van Buren.
Brent Cotta was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the crime. He'd been set to go to trial Aug. 23.
The Southwest Times Record reports that Cotta apologized to Cassie Cotta's sister and mother on Thursday. He said there were no words to describe the sorrow and shame he felt.
Cotta's mother reported her missing Dec. 31. Authorities say Brent Cotta joined the search party looking for her before eventually leading police to her body.
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