Nicole Okrzesik, the 23-year-old accused of strangling Juliana Mensch with her boyfriend in March, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on Monday and has had her trial tentatively set for August 6. She could face the death penalty.
Though we reported that the original trial, with co-defendant James Ayers, was set for June 25
, Broward State Attorney spokesman Ron Ishoy explains the charges had to be re-filed so Ayers and Okrzesik could stand trial together; initially, police charged only Ayers in the strangling of 19-year-old Mensch.
Police say Okrzesik and the 32-year-old Ayers strangled Mensch after Googling how to kill her
while the woman slept on the floor of the couple's Fort Lauderdale rented room. Police say the couple then argued about how to cover up the crime via text message
and Facebook chat
"Ayers was originally indicted alone for the murder of Juliana Mensch. Then additional evidence against Okrzesik was discovered, so the case was re-presented to the Grand Jury with the additional evidence, and the two were indicted jointly as alleged principals with each other in the same murder," Ishoy wrote in an email. "A tentative trial date has been scheduled for 8/6/12 at 9 a.m. As this is a new case, however, it will be unlikely that the case will be ready for trial on 8/6."