GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — A man accused of strangling and killing a 12-year-old girl has pleaded not guilty.

News outlets report 45-year-old Roy D. Coons Jr. entered the plea Wednesday. A grand jury had indicted him on two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of first-degree premeditated murder, attempted rape of a child and especially aggravated burglary.

Metropolitan Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron says Coons lived two doors away from Yhoana Arteaga. Her body was found inside her family’s Goodlettsville mobile home in August slightly over an hour after she told her mother by text message that someone was knocking at the door. There were no signs of forced entry.

Aaron says scientific evidence, including DNA, was crucial to making the arrest. Judge Monte Watkins appointed an attorney on Coons’ behalf.

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