Suspect in Laken Riley murder pleads not guilty

The sole suspect in the murder of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley pleaded not guilty Friday.

Riley’s alleged murderer, Jose Ibarra, 26, is an illegal immigrant from Venezuela and had been arrested previously after crossing the border in 2022 on charges such as shoplifting. His illegal status was known to authorities before the murder, but he was not kept in custody. He lived near the University of Georgia campus.

Ibarra faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. In Athens-Clarke County Superior Court on Friday, his lawyer spoke for him as he wore headphones to hear the proceeding translated to him in Spanish.

In addition, Ibarra is accused of being a “peeping Tom,” as a UGA staff member claimed to have seen him looking through the window
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