LEOMINSTER (CBS) — The man accused of killing a jogger in Princeton last summer was ordered held on $10 million bail Tuesday as new information in the investigation was revealed in court.
Angelo Colon-Ortiz, 31, of Worcester, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Leominster District Court to charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault and battery, and assault with intent to rape in the attack on Vanessa Marcotte on August 7.
Colon-Ortiz was arrested Saturday after investigators said DNA linked him to the killing.
The defense said he’s expected to be charged with murder in the next month or two.
Marcotte, 27, had been living in New York City and was visiting her family in Princeton when she went out for a walk around 1:15 p.m. on August 7.
When she didn’t return hours later, her family called police. Her body was later found partially undressed and battered off Brooks Station Road just a half mile from her mother’s house.
According to the arrest report, her nose was broken and she had “crushing” injuries to her throat.
In court Tuesday, Worcester Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Travers said they have cell phone evidence showing Colon-Ortiz was in the area at the time Marcotte was attacked.
Colon-Ortiz told police he worked for FedEx and said he occasionally drove routes in the Princeton area. FedEx said in a statement that Colon-Ortiz did not work for them, but was a driver for a third-party trucking firm.
Travers said a witness saw a man fitting the same description as Colon-Ortiz who appeared to have broken down on the side of Brooks Station Road shortly before Marcotte disappeared.
“One witness observed seeing a dark colored SUV, described as a Ford Escape, parked near to where the site where Vanessa’s body was later recovered,” Travers said.
The witness said he drove by the Ford twice that day, the first time at 12:45 p.m. and the second at 2:05 p.m.
“His attention was drawn to the vehicle as he observed a male standing next to the vehicle (who) appeared to be talking on his cell phone and the hood of the SUV up. He observed that the vehicle might be disabled and had thought to stop to render assistance. When he noticed that the person was holding a cell phone, he kept going,” Travers said.
When the witness passed by the vehicle again later on, at 2:05 p.m., “he observed that all of the doors of the vehicle were closed and the hood was in the down position.
He saw no one else about the vehicle.”
The murder shocked the small, rural town, which has a population of around 3,400.
Police received more than 1,300 tips in the case. In the months following the murder, they put out a description of a suspect vehicle, and then, based on DNA testing, a description of the suspect himself.
A State Trooper in Worcester recently saw Colon-Ortiz and his SUV. Believing they fit the descriptions, he sought a DNA swab from him, which Colon-Ortiz allegedly gave voluntarily.
He was arrested when that swab was found to match DNA evidence found on Marcotte’s hands from when she tried to fight off her attacker.
Colon-Oritz, who was born in Puerto Rico, has no criminal record. He used an interpreter in court Tuesday.
Defense attorney Ed Ryan said there was “no doubt” Colon-Ortiz is a U.S. citizen. He is married with two children, and has lived in Massachusetts for about one year.
Ryan said the defense has retained their own DNA expert to go over the evidence that led to Colon-Ortiz’s arrest.
“One of the things we’re going to look at very carefully is whether he knowingly, voluntarily understood what he was being asked to do, and whether or not he knowingly and voluntarily gave up a sample of his saliva,” Ryan said.
Marcotte’s father and uncle were present in court for Colon-Ortiz’s arraignment.
He is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on May 24.
One local man came to the courthouse to watch the proceedings.
“I just wanted to visualize what a monster looked like,” the man said.