Father of 5-year-old girl found dead in family's restaurant pleads guilty, will testify against wife

Posted at 1:37 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 13:41:29-04

The father of a 5-year-old girl who was found dead in Jackson Township earlier this year pleaded guilty to several charges on Monday.

In exchange, Liang Zhao, 34, will testify against his wife. 

Zhao was convicted of obstructing justice, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering of evidence and child endangerment.

Ashley Zhao, 5, was found dead in her family's Asian cuisine restaurant in January. Her parents originally reported that she went to lay down around 5 p.m. on Jan. 9 but, when her mom went to check on her around 9:30 p.m., she was gone.

She was later found dead inside the business. 

In exchange for a guilty plea, a murder charge against Zhao was dropped and he agreed to testify against his wife, Mingming Chen.

Chen is facing murder and felonious assault charges. Her trial is scheduled for Oct. 16, at 9:00 a.m.

As part of the plea agreement, Zhao will serve a 12-year prison sentence.