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Not guilty plea in Los Feliz teen murder

August 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The man accused of abducting, robbing and killing a 17 year old Los Feliz girl pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment in Los Angeles superior court Tuesday.Charlie Samuel, 50, stood with his head bowed and looking down, hiding from media cameras behind his attorneys.

Prosecutors say Samuel kidnapped Lily Burk on July 24 near the Southwestern School of Law, where Burk was picking up papers for her mother.

Police say she then tried to withdraw cash from an ATM with her credit card, and when she was unable to do so, she called her parents twice asking them how to do it. That was the last her parents heard from her.

Burk was found the next day in her Volvo in a downtown parking lot near Skid Row. Her body was in the passenger seat. Police say she had been beaten and her throat had been slashed.

Samuel was out on parole at the time.

Police say surveillance video shows Samuel driving the car with Burk in the passenger seat, stopping at the ATM, and then abandoning it in the parking lot where Burk's body was discovered.

They say the motive for the murder was robbery.

Police found Samuel's fingerprints inside the vehicle, and he was already in police custody after being arrested for drinking in public and possessing a crack cocaine pipe shortly after he allegedly carried out the murder.

According to the L.A. Times, Samuel should have been behind bars but due to a clerical error was out wandering the streets of Los Angeles.

Samuel was convicted of robbery and residential burglary in San Bernardino County in 1987. Ten years later, he was convicted of another burglary and was eligible to be prosecuted under California's three-strikes law.

But because of a clerical error, the 1997 burglary charge was filed as a second strike instead of a third. A third strike can put a convicted felon away for 25 years to life.

It is unclear who made the mistake in Samuel's case.

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