The man accused of killing 14-year-old Emily Stauffer on a walking path in Edson has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Ross Edward Kleman of Edson originally pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder back in December of 2008. Monday's plea comes as his trial on a charge of first-degree murder was to have begun.

Emily Stauffer, the 14-year-old girl who sang in her church choir and loved reading books about Jesus, was found slain in her hometown on Sept. 27, 2008 on a walking path not far from her home.

Two boys riding bicycles saw a man attacking a girl on the path in the northwest part of Edson on the date in question. They alerted a woman nearby, but emergency crews were unable to save her.

Kleman was arrested two months after Stauffer's death.

The Crown stated that Kleman strangled Stauffer and slashed her throat. He was linked to the crime by DNA.

"Mr. Kleman, a stranger to Emily Stauffer...struggled with her, strangled her, and slashed her throat," said Crown prosecutor Michelle Doyle.

In a bizarre twist to the case, CTV News learned learned shortly after Kleman's arrest that he had discovered the remains of a woman, Margaret Findlay, on an Edson walking path in 2002. The cause of her death has never been determined.

The man's guilty plea brings an automatic life sentence.

On June 9th, the court will hear victim impact statements from the young girl's family, which could have an impact on the length of time Kleman must serve before he is eligible for parole. On that same day, Kleman is expected to be sentenced.

Kleman also pleaded guilty Monday to sexually touching another female under the age of 16 in 2008.

With files from David Ewasuk