Suspect in Phylicia Barnes's Death Pleads Not Guilty

Attorney says he's seen no evidence linking Johnson to girl's death

By Monique Hayes
|  Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012  |  Updated 9:11 PM EDT
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Suspect in Phylicia Barnes's Death Pleads Not Guilty

NBCWashington.com

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A Maryland man accused of killing a North Carolina teen pleaded not guilty to murder.

Michael Johnson appeared in a Baltimore court yesterday. He is accused of suffocating Phylicia Barnes and then dumping her body.

The 16-year-old from Monroe, N.C., disappeared while visiting her sister for the Christmas holiday in 2010. Her body was found months later in the Susquehanna River.

A 16-month investigation led to Johnson's arrest. Prosecutors said he killed the girl in her half-sister's apartment and used a 35-gallon tub to move the body.

His lawyer said Johnson was targeted by prosecutors because he was the last to see her alive, the AP reported. He said he hasn't seen evidence linking Johnson to the crime.

A trial date was set for Aug. 13.

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