A man accused of sexually assaulting and killing a 13-year-old Suisun City girl pleaded not guilty to murder in a Fairfield courtroom today.
Anthony Lemar Jones, 32, is charged with murder with several special circumstances, including that the murder was committed during a kidnapping and a rape.
Prosecutors have said they intend to pursue capital punishment in the case, and the special-circumstance allegations make Jones eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted.
The body of his alleged victim, Genelle Conway-Allen, was found unclothed in a parking lot at Allan Witt Park in Fairfield at about 6:45 a.m. on Feb. 1.
Jones was arrested for the killing a week later in the 1100 block of East Tabor Avenue in Fairfield, and is being held without bail in Solano County Jail. Genelle was in foster care at the time of her death.
A graveside memorial service for her was held Thursday in Benicia.
Several dozen people gathered at a cemetery overlooking the Carquinez Strait in Benicia today to remember the 13-year-old Suisun City girl who was found raped and murdered in a Fairfield park earlier this month.
Under a cloudless blue sky, mourners stood around a white casket adorned with flowers and draped with a poster-size picture of Genelle Conway-Allen. Genelle's body was discovered by a passerby in a parking lot at Allan Witt Park around 6:45 a.m. on Feb. 1.
The man accused of killing her, 32-year-old Anthony Lemar Jones, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in a Fairfield courtroom this morning.
"I know we would all rather be anywhere else but here today," Pastor Jerry Pollard of Gateway Church in Benicia said at the start of the 1 p.m. service.
"It's a horrific, horrible thing that happened to Genelle," he said.
Some of Genelle's friends and classmates from Green Valley Middle School in Fairfield wore white T-shirts bearing a picture of the teen, who was in foster care at the time of her death.
Many who spoke at the service described Genelle as a girl with a bright smile who loved to write songs and poetry.
"When I first met Genelle, she came up and introduced herself to me. Ever since then, we clicked," one girl recalled tearfully, clutching a tissue. "We'll miss her."
Greg Hubbs, the principal of Green Valley Middle School, remembered Genelle as energetic and outgoing.
The day before her murder, she visited his office and told him "she was doing better in school," he recalled.
When she was reported missing and later found murdered, the school provided grief counselors for students and gave them time to write about their feelings, he said.
On top of missing their classmate, Hubbs said, some students have expressed a sense that "this could happen to me, too."
"You have to say, 'Be careful -- your parents want you to be safe and there's a reason,'" Hubbs said.