- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

HOOD RIVER, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon man has pleaded not guilty to killing his girlfriend while they hiked in the Columbia River Gorge six years ago.

The Bend Bulletin reports (https://bit.ly/1PEzFyn ) that 40-year-old Stephen Nichols on Monday pleaded not guilty. He is expected to stand trial in May or June of next year on a murder charge in the death of his 23-year-old girlfriend Rhonda Casto, who fell 100 feet on a steep, narrow path.

He later tried and failed to collect her $1 million life insurance policy.

Nichols was arrested in February at the San Francisco International Airport after returning from China. He had been secretly indicted in April 2014.

He has been in custody at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility since February.

Casto’s family members declined requests for comment.

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Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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