Mackenzie Cowell, Wash. Teen Murdered; Beauty School Classmate Christopher Wilson Pleads Not Guilty

Washington Teen Mackenzie Cowell Murdered, Suspect Christopher Wilson Pleads Not Guilty
Mackenzie Nicole Cowell (CBS affiliate KREM)

WENATCHEE, Wash. (CBS/AP) Despite DNA evidence linking murdered 17-year  MacKenzie Cowell to her beauty school classmate Christopher Wilson, the Washington man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a second-degree murder charge.

The courtroom was packed with Wilson's supporters, who do not believe the 29-year-old was capable of the crime.

"It's not possible, he was such a generous nice guy to me and everybody else, he was so friendly to everybody," a supporter told KXLY.

Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen does not agree and filed an enhancement charge that could give Wilson a life sentence if he is convicted.

Investigators believe Wilson killed Cowell after she left the Academy of Hair Design in Wenatchee on Feb. 9.

The teenager's body was found Feb. 13 along the Columbia River at Crescent Bar. She had been strangled, struck in the head and stabbed in the neck.

Robin Wagg, commander of the task force investigating Cowell's death, says there is a considerable amount of evidence against Wilson, including Cowell's and Wilson's DNA which was found on a piece of duct tape left near the body, and a blood stain which was found in Wilson's apartment carpet matching Cowell's DNA.

Sergeant John Kruse told KXLY, "We still have evidence at the crime lab that is being analyzed, we continue to submit evidence, we continue to interview people involved with Mr. Wilson."

However, investigators have failed to provide a motive which has Wilson's supporters up in arms.

Robin Jones, a friend of the slain teenager, wants everyone to take a step back and remember what has brought everyone together.

"The whole focus is Mackenzie, Mackenzie is the victim, Mackenzie didn't ask to be abducted, she didn't ask to be brutally murdered, she didn't ask to be left on the shores of the river, she was 17, innocent, vibrant and an exciting young girl," she told KXLY.

Wilson's attorney has waived his right to a speedy trial due to the extensive amount of evidence that needs to be reviewed.

The suspect is being held on $1 million bail in the Chelan County Regional Justice Center where he awaits his March 8 trial.