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BELLEVILLE - An ex-teacher pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he tried to kill a teenager by snapping her neck and leaving her for dead in a city park where she was found clinging to life 30 hours later.

Samson Shelton, 27, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty a count of attempted first-degree murder. He was scheduled to go on trial next month in the attack on Ashley Reeves.

By law he must serve at least 85 percent of that time, or about 17 years, officials said.

Shelton declined to address the court before sentencing. He also did not apologize to victim Ashley Reeves, who was in the courtroom.

Reeves, 18, said she didn't expect an apology from Shelton.

"I'm glad it's over with," said Reeves, who continues to undergo rehabilitation and plans to go to college. "I just want to continue with my life and not worry about it."

After the proceedings, Shelton's mother, Susan, decried what she called the "continuing demonization of Sam."

"It was guaranteed that Sam couldn't get a fair trial anyway," she said.

The plea came after a judge signed of an a court-ordered psychiatrist's assessment that Shelton was mentally fit. Shelton's competence came into question last month when he overdosed in an apparent suicide attempt at his mother's home while free on bond.

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