SALEM, Mass. — After a secret court proceeding last summer in a hospital bed, the public on Wednesday got a first look at a Lawrence man accused of murdering a young woman in July.
Giovanni Lebron, 24, of 20 Daisy St., was arraigned in Salem Superior Court following his indictment on a first-degree murder charge.
He was arrested and charged after the body of Nicole Connor, 24, was found in the Spicket River near Manchester Street Park in Lawrence on July 23.
In court Wednesday, Lebron said "not guilty" after the murder charge against him was read by a clerk in open court.
Judge Thomas Dreschler ordered Lebron to remain held without bail as he awaits trial.
The murder arraignment was very brief and there was no discussion of the details of the crime.
The man who police say was Lebron's accomplice, Nelson Gilles, 23, of 25 Bowdoin St., Lawrence, was also arraigned Wednesday on a charge of being an accessory after the fact.
Gilles bail was set at $100,000 by Dreschler.
The motive for Connor's murder remains unclear.
The indictment indicates Lebron "did assault and beat Nicole Connor with intent to murder her, and by such assault and beating did kill and murder" Connor, according to court papers.
A prosecutor filed a log of discovery, possible evidence, in the case. Taped police interviews with Lebron, Lawrence police reports, crime scene reports, photos and autopsy reports on Connor and a "Facebook evidence catalog" are among the items listed in the log, filed Wednesday by prosecutor Lindsay Nasson.
After Connor's body was found, state police detectives were seen working near that area of the Spicket River. A couch was hoisted from the water by a crane on a tow truck.
Also, a cellphone seized from Lebron after his arrest contained Facebook Messenger texts between Lebron and Gilles, revealing that Gilles had “intimate knowledge” of what had occurred, said Nasson in a hearing last summer.
Police then compared Gilles’ photo to images seen on video surveillance that captured two men, one of them police believed to be Lebron, carrying Connor’s body to the Spicket River between 1 and 2 a.m. on July 25, Nasson said.
Police say the second man was Gilles, who was wearing the same glasses and clothing as the person on the video when he was taken into custody, according to prosecutors.
Previously, Nasson said they quickly found Gilles at home, where he lives with his mother and spends most of his time playing video games.
Connor was from Haverhill, according to her obituary prepared by the Driscoll Funeral Home in Haverhill.
The young woman was described as "strong willed and full of determination" and enjoyed the outdoors and visiting Salisbury Beach, according to the obituary.
"She was light-hearted and free-spirited, always quick with a laugh. She wasn't the least bit shy and her bubbly personality gained her many friends everywhere she went. Although she was going through hard times in recent years, we know without a doubt that she would have overcome them eventually with her inner strength of will, if she hadn't been taken from us all far too soon," according to the obituary.
In the summer, Lawrence District Court Judge Mark Sullivan barred the media from covering Lebron's hospital room arraignment at Lawrence General Hospital.
Sullivan claimed the presence of journalists would violate medical privacy laws and the “decorum” of the hospital and that the room was too small.
The judge also granted a motion to impound, or seal, the police reports in the case, and a clerk erroneously failed to make a recording of the proceeding.
Lebron and Gilles are due back in court Dec. 4.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.