UNITED STATES NEWS

Not guilty plea for suspect in killing of nursing student found on University of Georgia campus

May 31, 2024, 8:10 AM

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A man accused of killing a nursing student whose body was found on the University of Georgia campus pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other charges in her death.

A grand jury in early May returned an indictment charging Jose Ibarra, 26, with murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other crimes in the February killing of Laken Hope Riley. The 10-count indictment accuses Ibarra of hitting the 22-year-old Augusta University College of Nursing student in the head, asphyxiating her and pulling up her clothing with the intent to rape her.

Ibarra, dressed in a button-front shirt and dark slacks, was shackled and wearing a translation headset as he appeared in court alongside his lawyers, public defenders John Donnelly and Kaitlyn Beck. Several of Riley’s family members were present for the hearing.

Athens-Clarke County Superior Court Judge H. Patrick Haggard said he hopes to hold a trial in the fall.

The killing immediately became a flashpoint in the national debate over immigration because Ibarra, who is from Venezuela, entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 and was allowed to stay to pursue his immigration case. Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, blamed Riley’s death on President Joe Biden and his border policies.

Riley’s death gave traction to a Georgia bill requiring jailers to check the immigration status of people in their custody and to apply to help enforce federal immigration laws. When he signed the bill, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, said it “became one of our top priorities following the senseless death of Laken Riley at the hands of someone in this country illegally who had already been arrested even after crossing the border.”

Riley’s body was found Feb. 22 near running trails after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run, and police have said her killing appeared to be a random attack. Ibarra was arrested the next day and has been held in the Athens-Clarke County Jail without bond since then.

The indictment charges Ibarra with one count of malice murder, three counts of felony murder and one count each of kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, hindering an emergency telephone call, tampering with evidence and peeping Tom.

The indictment says Ibarra concealed a jacket and gloves, leading to the evidence tampering charge. It also says that on the day of Riley’s killing, Ibarra had peered into the window of an apartment in a university housing building, invading the privacy of a person whose name was redacted, which is the basis for the peeping Tom charge.

United States News

Associated Press

Report finds Colorado was built on $1.7 trillion of land expropriated from tribal nations

A report published this week by a Native American-led nonprofit examines in detail the dispossession of $1.7 trillion worth of Indigenous homelands in Colorado by the state and the U.S. and the more than $546 million the state has reaped in mineral extraction from them. The report, shared first with The Associated Press, identifies 10 […]

40 minutes ago

Associated Press

Florida prepares for next round of heavy rainfall after storms swamp southern part of the state

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Forecasters warned Floridians to prepare for additional flash flooding after a tropical disturbance dumped as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rainfall in the southern parts of the state, with worsening conditions expected Friday. The disorganized storm system was pushing across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico at roughly […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

1 of 2 abducted Louisiana children is found dead in Mississippi after their mother is killed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Louisiana woman was found dead in her home Thursday, and her two young daughters were abducted and found hours later in Mississippi — one dead and the other alive, police said. A Louisiana resident who had dated the woman was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, in connection with the deaths and […]

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Ready to renew your US passport? You can now apply online

WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s an easier way to renew your passport — online. The State Department has opened a trial run allowing a limited number of people to apply for their updated travel documents with a few clicks. You can’t just start anytime — windows will open at midday Eastern time each day and then […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

You don’t think corn dogs are haute cuisine? These chefs, using alligator sausage, beg to differ.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Stefani De Palma, an award-winning chef and head of the a team vying to represent the Americas in a French culinary competition in January, knew she wanted her team’s work to feature flavors of her native California. The challenge at the Bocuse d’Or Americas competition this week in New Orleans was […]

15 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Collins Comfort Masters

Here's how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Not guilty plea for suspect in killing of nursing student found on University of Georgia campus