Ross Kleman is led out of the courthouse in Hinton, Alta., on Monday. ((CBC) )

Ross Edward Kleman pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in the slaying of Edson, Alta., teenager Emily Stauffer in September 2008.

Stauffer, 14, was found dead after she was attacked in broad daylight as she walked along a path in the town, about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton, on Sept. 27, 2008.

Kleman was originally charged on Dec. 4, 2008, with first-degree murder in Stauffer's death.  Stauffer was the daughter of a well-known Baptist preacher in Edson.

The court heard that Kleman approached the teen around 5 p.m. the day she was killed, choked her and slashed her throat.

Kleman was identified through DNA evidence with a sample he provided voluntarily to police, the court was told.


Emily Stauffer, 14, was killed on Sept. 27, 2008. ((Canadian Press))

In court, Kleman looked frail and gaunt, and had to support himself as he stood in the prisoner's box.

Kleman will now undergo a psychiatric assessment and will return to court for sentencing on June 9.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of sexual touching in a separate, unrelated case from 2008. The victim was a five-year-old girl. 

Kleman, who was 43 at the time he was charged, had been working as an equipment operator for the Town of Edson.