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Laken Riley murder suspect Jose Ibarra pleads not guilty

The illegal immigrant accused of killing Augusta University student Laken Riley has entered a not guilty plea Friday during an arraignment hearing.

The illegal immigrant accused of killing Augusta University student Laken Riley entered a not guilty plea Friday during an arraignment hearing. 

Jose Ibarra, 26, is facing 10 counts following the death of Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student who he allegedly attacked on Feb. 22 while she was out for a run along dirt trails on the University of Georgia campus in Athens.  

When he arrived at Athens-Clarke County Superior Courthouse on Friday, Riley’s mother, Allyson Phillips, began sobbing, according to a Fox News reporter at the scene.  A judge says the case will now have a status hearing in August, with a trial expected by this fall.

A grand jury has indicted Ibarra on counts of malice murder, two counts of kidnapping with bodily injury, two counts of aggravated assault with intent to rape, two counts of aggravated battery, obstructing or hindering a person from making a 911 call, tampering with evidence and being a "peeping Tom." 


Ibarra is accused of causing Riley's death by inflicting blunt-force trauma to her head and "asphyxiating her in a manner unknown to jurors," an indictment states. 

The suspect is also accused of going to an apartment on UGA's "University Village Housing Building ‘S,'" where he "peeped through" a window and "spied upon" a university staff member on the same day he allegedly killed Riley, the indictment alleges. 


Ibarra lived in an apartment building that sits on the edge of the on-campus park where Riley was running, allegedly murdered the aspiring nurse in what UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark described as a "crime of opportunity." 

The scenic loop Riley ran that morning is easily accessible from behind Ibarra’s apartment complex. It is a five-minute walk from Ibarra’s door to the approximate scene where Riley was found dead. 

Ibarra, who is from Venezuela, illegally crossed into the United States through El Paso, Texas, in September 2022 and was released into the U.S. via parole, ICE and DHS sources previously told Fox News. 

Fox News’ Chelsea Torres and Bill Melugin contributed to this report. 

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