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Lab technician pleads guilty in Yale student murder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Yale University lab technician pleaded guilty on Thursday to the murder and attempted sexual assault of a graduate student whose body was found inside the wall of a campus building on the day she was due to be married in 2009.

Raymond Clark III, 26, had denied murdering Annie Le, a 24-year-old pharmacology student at the university in New Haven, Connecticut, but decided to admit guilt in New Haven Superior Court this week as part of a plea deal, his attorney, Beth Merkin, told Reuters.

Clark is expected to be sent to prison for 44 years as part of the deal, and sentencing is set for May 20, Merkin said.

Le, originally from Placerville, California, went missing in September 2009 shortly before her planned wedding to her college sweetheart. Police found her strangled body five days later in a wall in the basement of an animal research laboratory where both she and Clark worked.

A blood-stained sock bearing traces of both Le's and Clark's DNA was among the evidence that made Clark the only suspect in the murder.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Barbara Goldberg, Jerry Norton and Mohammad Zargham)

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