WOOSTER (AP) — An Ohio man pleaded not guilty Thursday in the rape and strangulation of a 9-year-old girl whose body was found in a trash bin at the trailer park where they were neighbors.
One of Jerrod Metsker’s court-appointed attorneys entered the pleas for him in Wayne County court. Metsker, wearing a red jail outfit with his wrists handcuffed, appeared via video and did not speak during the brief hearing.
A grand jury had indicted the 24-year-old Metsker on charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and rape. He is being held on $1 million bond. Authorities previously said the death penalty would be available as punishment if Metsker is convicted of murder.
Metsker was the last person seen with 9-year-old Reann Murphy at their trailer park in Smithville, southwest of Akron, authorities said. A caller identifying himself as Metsker reported Reann missing in a 911 call.
Her body was found Dec. 15 after a frantic search by neighbors and law enforcement. Metsker was arrested later that day. The prosecutor said she was likely killed at Metsker’s mobile home between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 14.