Diego Hernandez, the 22-year-old Laurel man accused of fatally strangling a woman in October, has pleaded not guilty.
Hernandez entered the plea during an arraignment Thursday in Yellowstone County District Court. He remains in custody in the county jail on bond of $500,000.
Hernandez is charged with deliberate homicide in the death of 57-year-old Lori Bray on Oct. 1.
Bray’s body was found without clothing in a wooded area near Laurel roughly three miles from where her car was abandoned. A man riding his ATV discovered it on Oct. 2.
The medical examiner’s office found Bray died of strangulation and said there was evidence of blunt force injuries to the head, as well.
At his initial appearance in October, Hernandez indicated he would hire Billings attorney Jack Sands, although Sands said Friday he had not yet taken the case. Public defenders are currently representing Hernandez.
The case has been assigned to District Judge Michael Moses, and Senior Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Ed Zink is prosecuting the case.
Update: This story was updated to note that Hernandez is currently represented by the Office of the Public Defender.
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