One Massachusetts teenager pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on Monday in connection with the death of another teen whose body was found in a Braintree, Massachusetts, hotel nearly a year ago.
Juana Rivera, 19, of Lynn, was ordered held without bail. She has been charged with the murder of 19-year-old Reina Rodriguez.
In addition to murder, Rivera pleaded not guilty to unarmed robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, human trafficking, conspiracy to commit unarmed robbery and deriving support from prostitution.
Prosecutors said Rivera knew Rodriguez was engaged in sex work at the Hyatt Place Hotel and conspired with co-defendants Kentavious Coleman, 20, and Kenyonte Galmore, 22, to travel to Braintree to rob her at that location.
Coleman and Galmore are both currently in custody in Mississippi on unrelated matters, and Massachusetts authorities have begun the process to have them returned to face arraignment for murder and other charges.
The two men were caught on surveillance camera on the night Rodriguez was murdered inside the hotel.
Rodriguez was found face down on the floor, naked from the waist down, with her feet and hands bound with cords from cell phones.
Prosecutors said in court Monday that Rivera had promised to make Rodriguez a lot of money and had arranged a meeting at the hotel that involved the two men caught on surveillance.
Also indicted pursuant to this investigation was Jason McLeod, 35, of Mattapan who was charged with human trafficking and deriving support from prostitution stemming from his relationship with Rodriguez. McLeod was arrested over the weekend by Maine State Police who learned of the warrant for his arrest during a routine traffic stop.
The victim’s sister got a look at one of the suspects for the first time in court Monday, and said it brought on a lot of emotions.
"I just miss her laugh and our bond, but she’s my best friend. I know she’s OK now. And I know she will get the justice she deserves," Sigyrd Rached said.
The teenager's death had been under investigation by multiple agencies since her body was discovered June 22, 2017, inside a room at the Hyatt Place Hotel on Forbes Road in Braintree, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey.
"The Braintree police have been excellent partners with Norfolk County homicide detectives in this investigation," Morrissey said. "We also very much appreciate the service of the grand jury that heard evidence in this case and the Lynn Police for their part in taking this defendant into custody."
Riviera is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on May 10.