- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) - A former University of Mary Washington student pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges related to the April slaying of a fellow student and housemate.

Steven V. Briel entered his plea in Fredericksburg Circuit Court to charges of first-degree murder, abduction and strangulation in the slaying of Grace Rebecca Mann, 20, of McLean.

Commonwealth’s Attorney La Bravia J. Jenkins said a status hearing was scheduled for Nov. 11.

Attorneys for Briel, 30, have ordered a mental health evaluation for a possible insanity defense, the Free Lance-Star (https://bit.ly/1LhWqbE) reported.

Briel is charged with the April slaying of Mann, who was found in the Fredericksburg house they shared with two other students. The housemates testified in June that Briel told them he and Mann had a physical confrontation before he fled their house.

The housemates said they found Mann with a plastic bag over her head and plastic bags stuffed in her mouth. Briel was arrested after a police search.

Mann’s slaying has received heightened attention because a campus feminist group has filed a federal gender bias complaint against the school. Mann was a leading feminist on campus.

Mary Washington President Richard Hurley has stressed there has been no evidence that Mann’s activism played a role in her slaying.

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