NEW YORK — A bouncer pleaded not guilty Thursday in the gruesome rape and murder of a graduate student in a “CSI”-style case built on such forensic evidence as blood, rabbit fur, rug fibers and cell phone records.
Darryl Littlejohn, 41, was charged in the slaying of Imette St. Guillen, a 24-year-old student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.
Brooklyn prosecutors have “never seen a case where there has been so much forensic evidence as the foundation of a case,” said District Attorney Charles Hynes.
Littlejohn, a parolee with a long criminal history, has steadfastly denied any involvement in the slaying.
St. Guillen’s body was found dumped in a desolate section of Brooklyn on Feb. 25. A white athletic sock was stuffed in her mouth and her head was wrapped with packing tape.
She was last seen alive early that morning at a SoHo bar where Littlejohn worked as a bouncer. A manager at the bar told police that Littlejohn escorted St. Guillen out after closing time, and that he heard the pair arguing.
Investigators said DNA evidence links Littlejohn to blood found on ties that were used to bind St. Guillen’s hands.
Fibers match defendant's rug, jackets
Also, fibers discovered on the tape on the victim’s head were consistent with those from a rug and two fur-collared jackets from the defendant’s apartment, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. Investigators said they found mink and rabbit fur on the tape.
“This is an unusual finding, put it that way,” Kelly said. “Two jackets. A rabbit collar and a mink collar.”
Investigators also that Littlejohn’s phone was used to make a call from near the spot where the body was dumped, an hour before it was discovered.
If convicted, Littlejohn faces life in prison without parole.
Outside court Thursday, defense attorney Kevin O’Donnell told reporters his client maintains his innocence.
After the hearing, St. Guillen’s sister wept as she read a statement thanking police for their efforts. St. Guillen was from Boston.
“New York was Imette’s home,” Alejandra St. Guillen said. “She loved the city and its people ... Imette was a good person, a kind person. Her heart was full of love. With Imette’s death, the world lost someone very special too soon.”
NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.