Alleged Craigslist killer pleads not guilty

Former med student Philip Markoff arraigned today on seven charges

Philip Markoff, who has come to be known as the alleged Craigslist killer, today pleaded innocent to first-degree murder and six other charges in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.

Markoff, a 23-year-old former Boston University medical student, was indicted late last week on charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, armed kidnapping (two counts), armed assault with intent to commit robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm (two counts).

The charges are in connection with the April 14 murder of Julissa Brisman at the Copley Marriott Hotel in Boston and the April 10 kidnapping and robbery of another woman at the Westin Hotel, also in Boston. He has been charged separately in a third assault on a woman.

Markoff was arrested in April in connection with the case.

In court this morning, Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Edmond Zabin summarized the attacks on the two women in Boston and laid out some of the government's evidence against Markoff, as well. He said investigators gathered fingerprint evidence, cell phone records, video footage of Markoff allegedly entering and leaving the hotels around the time of the attacks and e-mails that were sent back and forth between Markoff and the victims.

Zabin also said that investigators found the gun used in the murder in a hollowed out copy of a Gray's Anatomy text book in Markoff's Quincy, Mass. apartment.

Markoff's defense attorney, John Salsberg, asked Judge Gary Wilson to not allow the prosecution to run through the details of the crimes, saying it was "poisoning the potential jury pool." Wilson denied his request.

Markoff's trial has been tentatively set to begin on June 1, 2010.

The case set off a firestorm of controversy around the erotic services category of advertisements on the Craigslist Web site.

Several state attorneys general publicly called on executives at Craigslist to eliminate any ads for prostitution from its Web site.

After meeting with several state attorneys general and facing threats of arrest from from the Attorney General of South Carolina, Craigslist officials agreed to kill the Erotic Services category and replace it with an Adult Services category whose advertisements would be manually reviewed.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
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