Suspected East Coast Killer Pleads Not Guilty to NoHo Sexual Assault

VAN NUYS (CNS) - A man suspected of killing a nurse and raping another woman in New York pleaded not guilty today to charges that he sexually assaulted and tried to kill a woman in North Hollywood after they went on a date.

Danueal Drayton, 27, of New Haven, Connecticut, was arrested July 24 by police in North Hollywood. He is accused of sexually assaulting the 28-year- old woman, trying to strangle her and refusing to let her leave her apartment, according to Deputy District Attorney Elan Carr.

Drayton was supposed to be arraigned Friday, but he refused to board a bus meant to take him to court, according to ABC7. He had to be physically removed from his cell Monday morning. When he appeared in court, he slouched in a chair and eventually fell to the floor, moaning and asking for a doctor.

Drayton is wanted in New York in connection with the killing of nurse Samantha Stewart, who was found dead in her Queens apartment on July 17, as well as the rape earlier this month of a woman in Brooklyn. Stewart, 29, was found dead by her father and brother, and authorities later determined that she had been strangled.

On Friday, the New York Daily News reported that Drayton confessed to committing two murders in Connecticut, one in the Bronx, one in Suffolk County, one in either Queens or Nassau County, and possibly another California homicide, according to a police source.

The source stressed, however, that it was unclear if Drayton was telling the truth about the additional crimes.

``My body did this, not my mind,” the paper quoted Drayton as telling investigators. ``I didn't want to do this. My body made me do this.”

Police believe Drayton met his victims through an online dating site.

He is charged in Los Angeles with one count each of attempted murder, forcible rape, false imprisonment by violence and sexual penetration by a foreign object, and could face up to life in prison if convicted as charged in the North Hollywood case.

The Daily News also reported that Drayton was released by authorities at a July 5 hearing in Nassau County after his arrest for choking his girlfriend in Inwood Park. The judge ruled that Drayton posed no flight risk, rejecting the county district attorney's call to hold him on $7,500 bail.

``It would have been impossible for the judge at that time to foresee the allegations that are presently unfolding and coming to light,” a Nassau Court spokesman told the Daily News.

Drayton is being held in lieu of $1.25 million bail. At his next court appearance Aug. 10, a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.

Photo: Getty Images

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