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Teen accused of killing appears in court

June 12, 2008 at 12:28 AM

PALATKA, Fla., June 12 (UPI) -- A 15-year-old Florida girl attended court Wednesday to face charges she fled the state after killing a man and stealing his truck, officials say.

Morgan Leppert was the focus of a national Amber Alert after she was spotted in a truck owned James Stewart, 66, who was found beaten, stabbed and suffocated to death in his Melrose, Fla., home May 1, police said.

Putnam County officials said they came across Stewart's phone number while probing Leppert's phone records, WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Fla. reported Wednesday.

The teen and her boyfriend Toby Lowry, 22, were charged in the killing after being arrested for panhandling in El Paso, Texas.

The girl's attorney last month entered a not guilty plea for her, WJXT said.

Putnam County Sheriff Dean Kelly argues Leppert and Lowry killed Stewart for his truck.

Lowry is charged with first-degree murder, auto theft, interference with custody and panhandling and the state may ask for a death sentence against him, the report said.

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