Laken Riley Murder Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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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 of the University Village Housing Building S on the same day Riley was killed.

The cause of death in Riley’s case came from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation. Riley’s body was discovered on campus on Feb. 22 near the apartment where Ibarra was living at the time. She was 22 years old.

Ibarra has been in police custody since Feb. 23. His trial is set to begin sometime in August.

Jenny Goldsberry
Jenny Goldsberry
Jenny Goldsberry covers social media and trending news. She’s a 2020 Brigham Young University graduate with a major in communications and minor in Japanese. She was born in Utah and has previous newsroom experience at the Salt Lake Tribune and Utah’s NPR station.

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