Accused Yosemite killer enters not guilty plea
August 6, 1999
FRESNO, California (CNN) -- Accused Yosemite killer Cary Stayner entered a plea of not guilty Friday to charges he killed Joie Armstrong, a Yosemite National Park naturalist whose decapitated body was found last month.
If convicted of killing the 26-year-old woman, Stayner could face the death penalty.
Stayner was led into the courtroom in a bright yellow jumpsuit, his feet and hands shackled. He did not speak during the arraignment at federal court in Fresno.
Stayner has already confessed to the crime, according to a government affidavit. Although in court on Friday his defense lawyer, Robert Rainwater, entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
Stayner kept his eyes downcast and did not look at his parents, Delbert and Kay Stayner, who were sitting together, holding hands in the front row.
The hearing lasted about five minutes. Stayner was ordered back into the custody of U.S. marshals.
U.S. Magistrate Sandra Snyder gave the government 10 days to provide the defense with the evidence it has discovered against Stayner. She set a status conference for August 19.
Armstrong taught environmental science at the Yosemite Institute. Her beheaded body was found July 22 in the Foresta area of Yosemite hours after friends reported her missing.
Authorities also are investigating Stayner's possible role in the slayings of three women sightseers at Yosemite who were last seen alive on February 15 at Cedar Lodge, the motel where Stayner had worked. The FBI has notified the families of the victims that Stayner has confessed in those slayings.
Stayner told a television reporter in an off-camera, jailhouse interview that he killed the three women -- Carole Sund, 42, her 15-year-old daughter Juli and Silvina Pelosso, a 16-year-old exchange student from Argentina.
Ken Sund, the brother-in-law of Carole Sund and uncle of Juli Sund, attended Friday's arraignment hearing.
Afterward, Sund said he was glad Stayner is locked up "so he won't be killing any more women."
Stayner has not been charged with the deaths of the three sightseers, but Sund said he believes Stayner is the killer.
"I feel bad just to be here and to have to face someone who killed members of my family," he told reporters.
Correspondent Greg Lefevre contributed to this report.
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