Suspect pleads guilty in death of girlfriend

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The man accused of killing his girlfriend and dumping her body at the foot of Colorado National Monument over the summer has pleaded guilty in Mesa County court.

At a plea hearing Thursday 44-year-old David Norman pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the death of 49-year-old Kathy Fortner.

Norman faces 16 to 48 years in prison plus five years of mandatory parole and a possible fine of $5,000. He's set to be sentenced in mid-March.

During his hearing Norman entered a request to have his personal items seized as evidence in the case given back to him. Norman asked for his truck, cell phone, wallet and watch to be returned to him, he wants to sell them and put the money into his commisary account at the Mesa County jail. Judge Valerie Robison granted his request after checking with DA Pete Hautzinger. Hautzinger requested that Norman complete a waiver agreeing that he would not request a re-trial in the future on the basis that the evidence was no longer in official custody. Norman agreed and signed the waiver.

Fortner's body was found in early July by a group of tourists. Norman was taken into custody the night her body was found on a parole hold by the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. He was officially named the suspect in her death on July 19.

According to an arrest affidavit, he was spotted on surveillance video near the Monument and at a car wash paying special attention to the bed of his truck where authorities say they found Fortner's blood.

Norman faced four habitual criminal counts in addition to charges of second degree murder, tampering with physical evidence and false reporting. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

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