Raymond Clark Pleads Guilty to Murdering Annie Le

A particularly gruesome and unpleasant chapter of Yale’s history came to a close today. Raymond Clark III, the lab technician accused of strangling Yale graduate student Annie Le to death in September 2009, pleaded guilty to one count of murder and one count of attempted sexual assault.

Le first went missing on September 8, 2009, and was later found hidden inside a wall in the basement of a Yale Medical School building. A substantial body of evidence implicated Clark in Le’s death, including erratic behavior, scratch marks on his arms and “overuse of his keycard in Le’s work area” on the date of the murder — which, in an even more heartbreaking twist, was a mere five days before her wedding. Clark was arrested on September 17, 2009, and held in a maximum security prison on $3 million bail.

The murder brought with it a torrent of national media attention, including a number of unseemly, macabre, awful references. (We’re looking at you, On Harvard Time.) Hopefully that’s all over now.

Clark originally pleaded not guilty in January 2010. However, it was widely reported yesterday that Clark would change his plea. Having done so today in a Connecticut Superior Court, he now likely faces 44 years in prison, as opposed to the lifetime sentence he could have received, had the case gone to trial.

Annie Le Murder Suspect Pleads Not Guilty–Twice

Raymond Clark III, the 24-year-old lab technician accused of strangling Yale pharmacology student Annie Le to death last fall, pled not guilty yesterday to two charges: murder and felony murder. The court hit Clark with the latter, surprise charge–which would allow the jury to convict even if the killing was only an accident, committed during another felony (rape, kidnapping, etc.)–at the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing.

The double not-guilty plea comes in the wake of mounting evidence against the Middletown resident, and gruesome details recently revealed in an 80 page arrest-warrant. The document detailed suspicious behavior on the part of Clark–including attempts to hide and clean bloody evidence–gore-stained articles of clothing (which he changed three times on the day of the murder), biological evidence in his car and home, scratches and cuts on his skin–indicating a struggle–and overuse of his keycard in Le’s work area. From the affidavit:

“While turning towards Officer Wood, Clark moved [a bloodstained] box of wipes from the corner to the far right corner and turned the box so that the blood splatter was facing to the right hand side of the cart away from plain sight.” Clark moved the box, then “leaned up against the cart and made small talk” with Wood. [New Haven Independent]

Clark is currently passing his time in maximum security prison on $3 million bail. He receives regular visits from his former fiancee–also a lab technician–and parents. A jailer described Clark as:

“nervous,” “very respectful,” and asking “many questions.”

He is no longer on suicide watch, and his fellow inmates have reportedly nicknamed him “Ray Ray.” He is allowed recreation time, and, according to his defenders, Beth Merkin and Joe Lopez, his mood is “good.”

Annie Le, Yale GRD ’13, was the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, grew up in tiny Placerville, California, and was her high school’s valedictorian. Friends described her as perpetually energetic, academically and intellectually impassioned, and very, very in love. At the time of her murder, she was preparing to marry her fiance, Columbia grad student and U of Rochester sweetheart Jonathan Widawsky. Her brother, Chris Le, wrote:

“She may be small, but she be fierce. Stuck in a 4′ 11″ frame, she had a 7′ tall personality. She will always live on through us.”

Le was last seen alive on security camera, entering 10 Amistad Hall at 10am on September 8, 2009. On her planned wedding day, September 13, investigators discovered her body, stuffed inside a wall in the building’s basement. She was 24 years old.

After the jump, read excerpts from the Clark case’s official affidavit, detailing the crime.

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Police Identify Person of Interest in Annie Le Case

ray_younglooking_myspace16.jpgPolice have recently identified 24-year-old Raymond Clark as a suspect in the Anne Le murder at Yale. Cops arrived at his apartment in Middletown, Connecticut but did not arrest him, claiming to only have a “person of interest.” A lab technician at the lab where Le worked, Clark displayed visible chest marks and also failed a polygraph test. But according to a source close to Clark and his family:

Of course, he had scratches on his arm–from his cat. I know he didn’t do it, but I can’t understand how anybody would do that in the first place and put her in the wall like that. And they would have had to do it at night because certainly nobody could have done it during the day when everybody was looking.

Clark hadn’t been seen since last Thursday following the Tuesday disappearance of Le. Le’s body was found this weekend in a chute in the basement of the pharmacology research facility on 10 Amistad Street. Yale has since increased security in the surrounding area following the murder. Le’s fiancé Jonathan Widawsky, who had been cleared of being a suspect, has been assisting police with their investigation.