A young man who struck fear into Delta residents two years ago has pleaded guilty in the beating death of 15-year-old Laura Szendrei.

The man, who can’t be named because he was 17 when Szendrei died, stood up at the end of his preliminary hearing Thursday and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Grade 10 student’s death according to a report in The Vancouver Sun.

The Delta resident, now 20, was originally charged with first-degree murder. The Crown wants the man to serve an adult sentence, which could see him spend many more years in prison than if he were sentenced as a youth.

Szendrei was fatally beaten Sept. 25, 2010 as she headed into a wooded area in Mackie Park to meet some friends. The sun was shining and sporting events were underway nearby.

Police said the girl’s friends heard her screaming and ran to help. She had been severely beaten, and died in hospital the next morning.

In the days that followed, Szendrei’s parents, Mike and Rachael Szendrei, made a tearful plea for help as Delta residents feared for their safety.

Delta Police received about 500 tips, but the mystery of who killed Szendrei continued for months.

On Feb. 21, 2011, Delta Police announced the arrest of the young man in Szendrei’s murder.

“We put a lot of resources from the onset of the investigation … to make an arrest and ultimately hold someone accountable for the offence,” said Const. Ciaran Feenan, spokesman for the Delta Police Department, adding he could not provide any details of the investigation.