Laken Riley murder suspect pleads not guilty in University of Georgia campus slaying

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The individual accused of the murder of 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley was officially charged with murder on Friday in connection with the incident on the University of Georgia campus.

In an Athens-Clarke County court, a plea of not guilty was entered by a judge for Jose Ibarra, 26, after he was indicted earlier this month on charges of malice murder, felony murder, and other offenses.

The judge mentioned that the trial for this case is expected to be scheduled for the fall. During the arraignment, Ibarra remained silent and wore headphones. His lawyer requested 90 days to examine the preliminary discovery. The prosecution stated that they are waiting for cellphone reports and other scientific evidence but will be prepared for the trial in the fall.

Riley’s family was present in the courtroom during the arraignment. Riley, a student at Augusta University, was discovered deceased in a wooded area on the Athens campus on Feb. 22 after she failed to return from a run. The indictment accuses Ibarra of causing her death by inflicting blunt force trauma to her head and asphyxiating her, as well as severely disfiguring her head by striking her multiple times with a rock.

The 10-count indictment includes additional charges such as aggravated battery, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated assault with intent to rape, obstructing a person making an emergency call, and tampering with evidence. The latter charge alleges that he intentionally hid evidence, specifically a jacket and gloves, related to the malice murder offense.

Additionally, he faces a charge of peeping tom. The indictment claims that on the same day as Riley’s murder, he was caught spying through the window of another individual’s apartment on campus.

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