Louis Coleman III, a man accused of abducting and killing a young mother who was out celebrating her birthday, has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Jassy Correia, a 23-year-old mother of a toddler, went missing on February 24 after having last been seen at a Boston nightclub, the Associated Press reports. Delaware police reportedly pulled over Coleman four days later and found the young woman’s body in the trunk of his car, leading Coleman to be charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death, according to the outlet.
Coleman appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to face the charges against him and entered a not guilty plea, the Associated Press reports. He is being held without bail and faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
Coleman’s lawyer, David Hoose, told the Associated Press outside of court on Tuesday that he would “rather not comment.”
Correia had gone with friends to Venu Nightclub on February 23 to celebrate her birthday, police said in a statement while announcing that she was missing earlier this year. She was last seen leaving the area with a man who was later identified as Coleman, a Rhode Island resident. After officers pulled Coleman over in Delaware days later, Coleman allegedly told authorities, “She’s in the trunk,” CBS News reports.
Police found Correia dead. Her naked body, which was badly bruised and bound with duct tape, was stuffed inside of a suitcase, according to CBS News. Authorities announced that her official cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma, with U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling noting that there were signs of a struggle.
Surveillance footage of Coleman taken before he was captured allegedly show him carrying the body of someone who looked like Correia into a condominium two hours after Correia was last seen alive, according to CBS News. Cameras then reportedly captured Coleman leaving two days later and returning with shopping bags from Walmart; receipts obtained by authorities revealed that he’d bought a number of suspicious items, including gloves, goggles, bleach, and duct tape, the outlet reports.
He was then allegedly seen entering the building the following day with a large suitcase that still had the tags on it, then later leaving the building and loading the suitcase, which seemed to be significantly heavier then, into the trunk of his car.
Correia’s loved ones gathered to mourn her at her funeral in Dorechester last month, the Boston Globe reports.
“Jassy has a lot of people that loved her and those same people will continue to love, guide, and protect her daughter, Gaby,” her cousin De Andrade said.
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