Charges added against Biela | NevadaAppeal.com
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Charges added against Biela

Associated Press

RENO ” Prosecutors have filed three new rape charges against a former Marine accused of killing a college student.

James Michael Biela, 27, was arrested on Nov. 25 and initially charged with strangling 19-year-old Brianna Denison early this year and abducting and sexually assaulting another woman in December 2007.

On Friday, Biela also was charged with the January rape of Denison, the November 2007 attempted sexual assault of another student and the October 2007 rape of yet another woman.

All four attacks occurred on or near the University of Nevada, Reno, where Biela worked on a project as a pipe fitter, police said.

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick declined to comment on the new charges.

Biela’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

“I’m not going to get into any specifics or discussion on the case at this time,” Gammick told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “We’ll wait until the prelim on Wednesday.”

Gammick said his office was in the process of reviewing whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

Denison’s family declined to comment.

“Because of the sensitivity of the case, the family will not do any more interviews,” family spokeswoman Jennifer Bushman said.

Calls to the county public defender’s office were not answered Saturday.

Police said the case was cracked after Biela’s girlfriend told a friend that that she found women’s thong underwear in Biela’s new truck in September.

After receiving a tip from the friend on Nov. 1, police said they used DNA evidence to link Biela to the Denison killing and the December 2007 sexual assault and abduction of a woman outside her apartment.

DNA also linked the Denison killing with the November attempted sexual assault of a woman on College Drive, authorities said.

The October 2007 attack involved a woman who was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in a UNR parking garage.

Denison, a sophomore at Santa Barbara City College in California, was abducted while sleeping at a friend’s house over winter break from school.

Denison’s body was found Feb. 15 in a Reno field. At the scene, investigators found two intertwined pairs of women’s thong underwear.