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Plead not guilty today in court - Jan. 22, 2007 court date set

Craig and Kelly will be spending their spring, summer, fall and winter of 2006 in jail, at least for now. The couple appeared in court today, pleading not guilty to killing Melissa James.

The court date is set for January 22, 2007…

From the Las Vegas Sun

Bodybuilding couple plead not guilty in Las Vegas slaying

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Bodybuilders Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan pleaded not guilty Thursday to killing their live-in assistant and torching her body in the desert.

An alleged accomplice, Anthony Gross, also pleaded not guilty to helping Titus and Ryan burn 28-year-old Melissa James’ body, which was found early Dec. 14 in the trunk of Ryan’s burned-out Jaguar sedan off a desert highway southwest of Las Vegas.

Lawyers for the married couple said after the brief arraignment they intend to seek bail for Titus and Ryan pending trial, which the judge set for Jan. 22. Gross, 23, remains under house arrest after posting $13,000 bail.

Titus, 41, a 1996 bodybuilding champion and Mr. Olympia competitor, stood in shackles and declared himself “100 percent not guilty” when Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass asked for his plea to charges of murder with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping and third-degree arson.

“Not guilty,” said Ryan, 33, a past Fitness America and Fitness International winner, said when asked her plea to the same charges.

Prosecutors have not said whether they’ll seek the death penalty in the case.

Titus and Ryan could be convicted if they are found to have killed James in one or several ways, including suffocation, an overdose of morphine, duct tape on James’ face and several shocks with a Taser stun gun.

Authorities say they have videotapes showing Ryan buying seven bottles of charcoal starter fluid at a Wal-Mart near their home, and of Gross buying gasoline at a service station followed by a car resembling Ryan’s.

A county coroner’s autopsy in December left the cause of death undetermined and listed opiate intoxication as a contributing factor.

The grand jury charged Titus and Ryan with the slaying after prosecutors presented evidence that James was drugged, bound, shocked and strangled. Gross was charged with accessory to murder and third-degree arson.

Titus initially told police he’d had an affair with James. Later, Titus and Ryan told police they had evicted James from their house after discovering she was stealing from them, and that she stole Ryan’s car.

Police said the couple also said that James overdosed on drugs, and they panicked and burned her body - worried that publicity about the death would hurt their careers. Titus and Ryan were arrested Dec. 23 at a nail salon in Stoughton, Mass. Police accused them of fleeing to avoid prosecution. Their lawyers said they were visiting friends for the holidays.

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