Vanessa Marcotte: Man in court over woman killed jogging

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Vanessa Marcotte
Image caption,
Police suspect Vanessa Marcotte fought with her attacker, leaving him with scrapes and bruises

A Puerto Rican man who police say killed a woman in Massachusetts while she was jogging has appeared in court to face charges related to her death.

Vanessa Marcotte was discovered in a wooded area less than one mile from her mother's house during a visit home from New York in August 2016.

Angelo Colon Ortiz, 31, has been charged with aggravated assault and assault with intent to rape.

Police say they have DNA evidence that proves he killed Marcotte.

Mr Ortiz, who was given the aid of a translator during court proceedings, entered a plea of not guilty on Tuesday after hearing the charges against him.

Prosecutors say they are likely to charge him with murder at a later date.

Image source, ABC
Image caption,
Ortiz watches court proceedings

Marcotte was found on 7 August 2016 with "crushing injuries to the structures surrounding her throat" state police wrote in a report, according to the Boston Globe, and her body had been partially burned.

Defence lawyer Edward Ryan told the court that his client moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children "a short while ago".

"There is no question he is a US citizen," he said, adding that his client was "shaken" by the allegations against him.

According to prosecutors, Mr Ortiz is a FedEx employee who regularly passed by the area of Princeton, Massachusetts, where the murder occurred.

Worcester Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Travers said that mobile phone data showed that Mr Ortiz had been in that area on the date of the murder, and that he had not been working at the time.

Marcotte's death came only five days after the daytime murder of another woman running in Queens, New York, the two tragedies sending shockwaves through the jogging community when police feared a link.

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
Another jogger, Karina Vetrano, was murdered in New York City days earlier

Shortly after police discovered Marcotte's body, a motorist came forward to say that he had driven past a black SUV with an open bonnet that appeared to be disabled at the time, "near to the site where Vanessa's body was later recovered".

Mr Ortiz was connected to the crime when an officer spotted a man fitting his description driving a black SUV, and later went to his house to ask for a voluntary cheek swab.

He was arrested last Friday after his DNA was linked to DNA found on Marcotte's hands that is believed to have belonged to her attacker.

A judge at the Leominster District Court ordered that Mr Ortiz, who has no criminal history in Massachusetts, be held on a $10m (£7.8m) bail.

Prosecutors had asked for the high bail on the basis that Mr Ortiz had not lived in the area for very long, having only recently arrived from Puerto Rico.

They have asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security to look into his background.