Nathaniel Fujita pleads not guilty to Lauren Astley murder

Lauren Astley, left, was found murdered July 4, 2011, in Boston suburb. Nathaniel Fujita, right, has been charged in her death.
Lauren Astley and Nathaniel Fujita

(CBS/WBZ) WAYLAND, Mass. - Former Wayland High School football player Nathaniel Fujita was ordered held without bail Tuesday in a Massachusetts court after pleading not guilty to murdering his 18-year-old former girlfriend Lauren Astley.

Pictures: Lauren Astley and Nathaniel Fujita

Fujita, also 18, was taken into custody early Tuesday morning and arraigned in the afternoon at Framingham District Court, according to CBS station WBZ. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Both Astley and Fujita graduated last month. Prosecutors say they had been boyfriend and girlfriend for three years, but the relationship had ended recently.

A bicyclist found Astley's body in a marshy area near Sudbury, west of Boston, Monday morning.

Police had found her Jeep at the Wayland town beach parking lot Sunday night about an hour after she finished work at her job. According to prosecutors, Astley and Fujita exchanged phone calls while she was at work and she told co-workers she was going to meet him when her shift was done, reports CBS station WBZ.

Fujita later told police on three occasions that he had spoken with Astley briefly at his home. He said she had parked her car up the road and left after a short "awkward" conversation.

Astley was found with a gaping wound to her throat, according to prosecutors, and a bungee cord wrapped around her neck. Middelex County DA Gerry Leone added Tuesday that Astley was killed by strangulation from "a ligature and a wound to her neck using a sharp object."

Prosecutors did not say where she was killed.

At Fujita's home, police say they found blood on the floor of the garage and a bungee cord nearby. There was also blood found on a door handle, the kitchen floor, the kitchen sink and a bathroom sink.

Investigators say they later found Fujita's bloody clothes and sneakers in a crawl space by his bedroom and that the clothes also had dirt consistent with being in a marsh.

Fujita has no prior record. He was accepted and planned to attend Trinity College, where he was recruited to play football. This is the first murder in Wayland in 25 years.

More on Crimesider
July 5, 2011 - Lauren Astley found dead in Mass. marshland, classmate Nathaniel Fujita charged with murder