ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Seth Willis Pickering, 38, of Leicester, N.C. pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing his daughter, 6-year-old Lila Pickering, within the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“Our hearts go out to Lila’s family. No action by the criminal justice system can soothe the pain of their loss,” said U.S. Attorney Murray in announcing today’s guilty plea. “This is an outcome reached after consideration of all the facts and circumstances of this case. By allowing the defendant to plead guilty and serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole, we will spare the family the trauma of a lengthy trial and decades of appeals. We hope this resolution brings some comfort to the family of Lila Pickering.”
Seth Pickering admitted to killing his daughter on September 9, 2016 so he wouldn’t lose custody, officials said. Pickering further admitted that he killed Lila Pickering deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation.
“Now they will never be able to take her away from me,” Pickering told a ranger, according to an affidavit filed by an FBI investigator. It added that he also said something to the effect of “she’s happier now. … It’s what she wanted.”
The child’s mother, Pickering’s estranged wife, lived in Florida at the time of the murder.
Pickering’s plea agreement, which the Court has accepted, provides that he will receive a sentence of life in prison without any possibility of parole for his crime.