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Annie Le’s killer pleads guilty

By March 21, 2011

The man accused of killing Placerville woman Annie Le pleaded guilty to felony murder Thursday morning, more than one year after Le’s body was discovered hidden behind a wall at a Yale University research center.

Public defenders for Raymond John Clark III, 26, told news outlets earlier this week that the former animal research technician intended to enter a guilty plea Thursday morning during a pre-trial hearing in a Connecticut courtroom.

Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported Clark in fact pleaded guilty to the 2009 murder and attempted sexual assault of Le. Prior to Thursday’s announcement, Clark had not been charged with the attempted rape of Le.

According to the New Haven Independent, Clark pleaded guilty to the sexual charge count under the Alford Doctrine, meaning he denied trying to rape Le but acknowledged prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutor David Strollo reportedly told the court Thursday that Le’s body was discovered exhibiting signs of sexual assault. Investigators, Strollo said, also found semen on Le’s underwear, according to the New Haven Independent.

Beth Merkin, Clark’s assistant public defender, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday morning.

Clark, in his agreement with prosecutors, accepted a 44-year sentence, according to the Associated Press.

Le, 24, was raised in Placerville and attended Union Mine High School in El Dorado. At the time of her death, she was a Yale graduate student working in the university’s animal research center.

Clark, who worked for the Ivy League school for five years, initially pleaded not guilty to the slaying.

Le was last seen alive on Sept. 8, 2009, when campus video surveillance showed the graduate student entering the research center where she worked. She was not seen exiting.

Five days later, investigators found her body concealed behind a wall in a lower-level locker room at the research center. Autopsy reports determined the cause of death was strangulation.

Le was set to be married the day her body was discovered.

Clark was arrested by police on Sept. 17, 2009, and was held on $3 million bail.

Investigators found several incriminating pieces of evidence against Clark, including blood-stained clothing recovered from the research center.

Forensic tests later revealed the blood to be a mixture of Le’s and Clark’s.

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Jim Ratajczak

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