- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

ESTANCIA, N.M. (AP) - A New Mexico man charged in the brutal death of his girlfriend, whose body was found in a towed van, has pleaded not guilty.

KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports (http://goo.gl/TLQCw6) that Mark Chavez entered his plea Thursday in Torrance County District Court.

Last year, Tammie Cessna was found dead inside a van authorities towed five days before.

An autopsy revealed that Cessna suffered from trauma, especially to her head and neck.

The 42-year-old Chavez was arrested after the body was discovered, but was let him go due to a lack of evidence.

But specialized tests later found a large amount of Cessna’s blood inside Chavez’s hotel room. He was then charged with murder.

If convicted, Chavez faces up to 18 years in prison.

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Information from: KOAT-TV, http://www.thenewmexicochannel.com/index.html

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