In recorded jailhouse phone calls to his family, Justin Rector says he is pleading guilty to the crime and says it is the right thing to do.
In one of the phone calls, Rector told his father he remembers what happened the night the little girl was murdered, but he never went into detail about it.
Rector told another family member he can't explain why he does the things he does.
In three different phone calls from October, Justin Rector told family members he is pleading guilty to murdering 8-year-old Bella Grogan-Canella in Bullhead City last year.
Rector: "I'm going to plead guilty."
Family member: "What?"
Rector: "It's not about my best interest; it's about accepting responsibility for my actions."
Investigators say the girl was strangled to death and found buried in a shallow grave. Rector, a family friend, was watching the girl at the time.
Police say they found his shoe prints at the scene.
Rector: "That's all I keep thinking about, that poor little (expletive) girl didn't deserve it, that poor girl."
Rector never says what happened to Bella or why, and no one on the other end of the calls asks. He talks about going to the hospital thinking he was hallucinating when people wanted to question him about the crime.
Rector: "I was up for a few days, I drank a bunch of Nyquil, and a bunch of beer to come down to sleep or whatever, I was out of it."
Rector's calls came shortly after the state announced it would seek the death penalty in the case. In one call, Rector told his father his attorney wanted off the case because he declined to take a plea deal or life in prison without parole.
Rector: "Mr. Morris thinks I'm trying to get the death penalty for me; it's not that. I'm not trying to kill myself; I'm trying to (expletive) man up, trying to take responsibility for what."
Rector also claimed responsibility in a postcard sent to his father; he wrote: "I'm not covering up for anyone or anything like that! I can't believe this happened either. I don't know why I did, and I can't take it back, all I can do is man up and accept the consequences."
Rector: "If it happened to someone you loved what would you want that fellow to do? I've made the decision; that's what I'm going to do."
A recording on the jail phone reminds inmates their calls are recorded, and Rector's father even reminded him of that during one of their conversations.