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Man waives jury trial for 1996 slaying of Philadelphia teen to avoid potential death penalty


PHILADELPHIA — A Florida prison inmate allegedly linked by DNA to the 1996 rape and murder of a Philadelphia teen has agreed to a nonjury trial to avoid a possible death sentence.

The Philadelphia Inquirer ( said 47-year-old Rafael Crespo appeared before a judge Thursday and waived his right to a jury trial in the slaying of 17-year-old Anjeanette Maldonado.

A three-day bench trial is set to start Sept. 8.

The high school student's body was found in an abandoned house in October 1996. She was attacked and forced into the building, where she was raped and killed.

Defense attorney Michael Giampietro said Crespo "insists he is innocent" and chose a nonjury trial only to escape the threat of a death sentence if a jury had convicted him of first-degree murder.

Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer,

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