Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Man Pleads Not Guilty After Body Found In Closet

18-Year-Old Victim Was Strangled, Beaten, Raped

POSTED: 4:08 pm EDT August 7, 2007

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- A 26-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and sexual battery in the death of a woman whose body was found in his closet.

Attorneys for Jason Shenfeld entered the plea Monday in the rape and strangulation of 18-year-old Amanda Buckley. He was not at the arraignment.

Shenfeld faces possible life in prison or the death penalty if convicted as charged last week. A committee of prosecutors was expected to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Shenfeld's parents noticed their son seemed nervous and was locking his bedroom door before the body was found. When his father finally went into the room July 20, he found Buckley's body stuffed in the closet, Palm Beach County sheriff's officials said in a report.

Shenfeld told his father the teen had overdosed on drugs and he panicked, the report said. But investigators said they found duct tape in Buckley's hair, bruises on her body and evidence of rape, according to the report.

An autopsy revealed the girl was strangled, beaten and raped.

Shenfeld was released from jail in February after being arrested on charges of sexually assaulting two other women. Charges in that case were eventually dropped because of "conflicts in evidence," according to court records.

Defense attorney Brian Gabriel said he could not comment until he saw the evidence that prosecutors have gathered.

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