NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A man charged with murder in the death of a Montclair college student appeared in court Tuesday in connection with the death of a second woman.
Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 20, pleaded not guilty in the murder of 33-year-old Joanne Brown. Last week, he pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of 20-year-old New Jersey City University student Sarah Butler.
Wheeler-Weaver’s bail was multiplied from $1 million to $5 million cash or bond. His lawyer was not surprised, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
“He’s accused of two murders, so I expect the bond to be high,” defense attorney Shevelle McPherson said.
Brown’s body was discovered on Dec. 5 in a vacant home on Highland Avenue in Orange, four days after Butler’s body was found in the West Orange section of Eagle Rock Reservation.
Authorities said both women had been strangled to death, but Wheeler-Weaver’s lawyer says the state has no evidence to merge the two homicides.
“So far from what I’ve read, it looks like they’re trying to accuse him of this crime because the manner of deaths are similar,” McPherson said. “So if they’re trying to secure conviction based on manner of death, they’re gonna have to come up with a lot more than that.”
When CBS2 spoke with Butler’s father after the arraignment in his daughter’s murder last week, he had an inkling there would be more victims.
“What I’m finding out now is, he’s, there’s quite a few girls may be missing and he’s, you know, he’s in charge of it,” Victor Butler said.
Brown’s family did not want to show their faces, but told CBS2 all they want is justice for whoever committed the crime.
“I just want them to make sure they have all the facts before they put this death on someone and make sure it’s the right one,” one relative said.
Wheeler-Weaver’s lawyer would not comment if her client knew either victim. He is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility. The case now going to a grand jury.