DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — The man that was arrested and charged with murder for killing 11-year-old Amberly Barnett pleaded guilty in a DeKalb County Courtroom.
On Thursday morning, Christopher Wayne Madison entered a guilty plea. He was given an immediate sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Initially, the state was seeking the death penalty against Madison.
According to reports, the family requested prosecutors to accept Madison’s guilty plea, in hopes of sparing them from having to endure the graphic evidence that would be presented during the trial.
Madison was arrested in 2019 during the investigation into the death of Amberly Barnett. The 11-year-old’s body was found in a wooded area, just 200 yards from Madison’s home.
Barnett, who was from Georgia, was visiting her aunt – a neighbor of Madison’s. Amberly was reported missing on the evening of Friday, March 1, 2019. Her body was discovered around 6:30 the following morning. An autopsy would show she was strangled.
An investigator with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office at the time testified that Madison told them he had searched the woods near his home, but couldn’t find Barnett.
Investigators say that’s exactly where they found her, though, with a blue rope still tied around her neck.
Madison’s girlfriend reportedly told investigators that the same blue rope had been in their home. During their investigation, authorities found a clamp and bolt in the floor used in “bondage” activity, along with blood spatters and more rope wrapped around Madison’s knife.
Madison was arrested that Saturday evening on a drug charge and booked into the DeKalb County Jail.
Online court records show Madison was indicted for the murder on June 2, 2021. Several delays in the trial were brought on by the pandemic, and the case continued to be pushed back.
March 2022 marked three years since Amberly’s death.