Burlington, Vt. A man accused of beating and strangling a University of Vermont student he had met on a Burlington street pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder.
Brian L. Rooney, 36, appeared briefly before District Judge Christina Reiss but didn't speak at the hearing Thursday. Defense attorney David Sleigh entered the plea for him.
Rooney was the last person seen with Michelle Gardner-Quinn before she disappeared while walking back to campus from a Burlington bar early Oct. 7. A store surveillance video showed the two walking together.
Gardner-Quinn's body was found a week later near a gorge. An autopsy determined the 21-year-old had been strangled and beaten the day she disappeared.
Semen found on her body matched Rooney's DNA, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charge, and police alleged that Rooney killed Gardner-Quinn while sexually assaulting her.
Rooney told police he had been intoxicated the night he met her, according to the affidavit.