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Suspect in murder of 14-year-old Alianna Defreeze pleads not guilty

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The man accused of killing 14-year-old Alianna Defreeze on her way to school last month pleaded not guilty to his charges Thursday morning.

Christopher Whitaker, 44, was issued no bond and will appear in court again on Feb. 22. He was assigned public defenders.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Whitaker.

He faces four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count each of rape, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse.

Defreeze was last seen on Jan. 26 getting off of an RTA bus at East 93rd Street and Kinsman Avenue. Her mother reported her missing when she learned Alianna was not at school. Three days later, officers found her body in an abandoned house on Fuller Avenue.

Whitaker became a suspect through DNA evidence.

More stories on Alianna Defreeze here