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Suspect in Laken Riley killing indicted on murder, kidnapping and 'peeping tom' charges

A Georgia grand jury formally indicted Jose Antonio Ibarra on 10 charges, including felony murder and malice murder.
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A Georgia grand jury indicted the man accused of killing 22-year-old student Laken Riley on 10 charges, including malice murder and kidnapping, according to an indictment filed Tuesday.

The indictment in Clarke County Superior Court formally charges Jose Antonio Ibarra in Riley's murder, which authorities described as a crime of opportunity. Ibarra is charged with three counts of felony murder, a count of malice murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated assault with intent to rape, and "peeping tom," among other charges.

Laken Riley in an undated family handout photo.
Laken Riley.NBC News

The public defender's office representing Ibarra declined to comment when it was reached by phone Wednesday.

Riley was a nursing student at the Augusta University College of Nursing’s Athens campus. She went for a jog on Feb. 22 and was later found dead with “visible injuries” in a forested area behind Lake Herrick at the University of Georgia campus.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma, police said.

University Police Chief Jeff Clark said at the time that it did not appear that Ibarra knew Riley, adding that it appeared to be a "crime of opportunity, where he saw an individual and bad things happened."

Ibarra is a Venezuelan citizen who entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 near El Paso, Texas, officials have said. He was living in an apartment less than a mile from the University of Georgia and had failed to appear in court in connection with a previous shoplifting charge.

Investigators identified Ibarra as a suspect using a photo from a security camera because he was wearing a distinctive Adidas hat, The Associated Press reported, citing a federal affidavit.

Riley's father, Jason Riley, told NBC News in March that he feared Ibarra's immigration status has politicized his daughter's murder, overshadowing the narrative rather than focusing on who his daughter was.

"I think it’s being used politically to get those votes,” he said. “It makes me angry. I feel like, you know, they’re just using my daughter’s name for that. And she was much better than that, and she should be raised up for the person that she is. She was an angel.”

At the same time, he said his daughter's death has opened up discussions about border security and the victimization of women. He would prefer that it "not be so political."

"If everybody could live like Laken,” he said, “it would make the world a better place.”