Updated 10/25/2012 02:30 PM
Whittemore Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charges
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Clayton Whittemore, 21, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to second degree murder. He's accused of beating Alexandra Kogut, 18, to death in her college dorm room last month.
The courtroom was packed with friends and family, some wearing Kogut's favorite color purple, and many of them crying during the short proceedings.
Whittemore walked in wearing a brown jail jumpsuit and kept his head down as the attorneys talked.
Both families are from New Hartford, near Utica.
In statements he allegedly made to a jail deputy after his arrest, Whittemore says he and Kogut had been at a party when Kogut was rude to him. He says they argued when they got back to her room, she began pushing him. That's when he pushed her back and said, “I started punching her and just snapped.”
Whittemore further tells the deputy he kept punching her, then beat her with a curling iron.
"Every homicide that occurs in our county is very emotional for the families, but in this case, we have a very young girl who was just experiencing college for the first time and was brutally murdered by her boyfriend," said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. "She was excited about her boyfriend visiting her, and it ended in tragedy. It’s something that can affect anyone in any walk of life or any part of our county or community."
That is something students on the Brockport campus are now much more aware of also. Two students are covering the case for the student paper, The Stylus.
"I was at Take Back the Night [a domestic violence awareness event]," said Cassie Negley, The Stylus Editor-in-Chief. "One of the things that was said was, 'It's a goddamned shame that it took a murder on this campus for a camera to be at this rally.' It's much more pronounced that domestic violence is an issue and when you walk around campus and look at residence halls there are purple handprints on windows showing support. While this was a horrible tragedy it's nice to see that something good might be able to come from it."
Whittemore is being held in jail without bail.
Defense attorneys explained they've been given a lot of material in the case and are now reviewing it.
"We understand that both families are going through a lot of pain and suffering right now. We'd rather try our case through the court system rather than through media right now," said attorney John Leonard briefly to the cameras. He also released a longer statement, attached below.
Everyone is due back in court December 18th. The trial is set to begin March 18th.
If convicted, Clayton Whittemore could spend 25 years to life in prison.