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Laken Riley’s mother sobs in court as illegal migrant Jose Ibarra pleads not guilty to her murder

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Laken Riley’s heartbroken mother was seen sobbing in court today as the undocumented migrant accused of the 22-year-old’s murder pleaded not guilty.

Jose Ibarra, 26, is charged with murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other crimes in the February killing of the nursing student.

On Friday the Venezuela native, 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 and left the courthouse without commenting to reporters. 

Riley’s mother Allyson Phillips began crying as Ibarra entered the courtroom, as reported by Fox News. 

Riley's mother Allyson Phillips began crying as Laken Riley's alleged killer Jose Ibarra entered the courtroom on Friday

Riley’s mother Allyson Phillips began crying as Laken Riley’s alleged killer Jose Ibarra entered the courtroom on Friday

Jose Ibarra, 26, is charged with murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other crimes in the February killing of the nursing student

Jose Ibarra, 26, is charged with murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other crimes in the February killing of the nursing student

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

The 10-count indictment accuses Ibarra of hitting the Augusta University College of Nursing student in the head, asphyxiating her and pulling up her clothing with the intent to rape her.

The killing immediately became a flashpoint in the national debate over immigration because Ibarra, who is from Venezuela, entered the US 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. 

Prosecutors claims Ibarra inflicted blunt-force trauma to her head and 'asphyxiated Riley in a manner unknown to jurors'

Prosecutors claims Ibarra inflicted blunt-force trauma to her head and ‘asphyxiated Riley in a manner unknown to jurors’ 

On Friday Jose Ibarra was shackled and wearing a translation headset as he appeared in court alongside his lawyers, public defenders John Donnelly and Kaitlyn Beck

On Friday Jose Ibarra was shackled and wearing a translation headset as he appeared in court alongside his lawyers, public defenders John Donnelly and Kaitlyn Beck

When he signed the bill, Georgia Governor 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 February 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.

Prosecutors claims Ibarra inflicted blunt-force trauma to her head and ‘asphyxiated Riley in a manner unknown to jurors.’

Riley’s body was found February 22 near running trails after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run

Riley’s body was found February 22 near running trails after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run 

The indictment also states that Ibarra ‘seriously disfigured her head by striking her head multiple times with a rock’ and concealed a jacket and gloves, leading to the evidence tampering charge. 

On the day of Riley’s killing, Ibarra had allegedly 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.

He allegedly went inside one of the university’s apartment complexes ‘for the purpose of becoming a peeping tom in that he did peep through the window and spied upon and invaded [the employee’s] privacy.’ 



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