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Published: Wednesday, 9/29/2010

Woman pleads not guilty in Wash. in acid hoax case

ASSOCIATED PRESS

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Her face red and blotchy but largely unbandaged, a 28-year-old Vancouver woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges arising from her false claim that a stranger splashed acid in her face.

Bethany Storro has confessed that she made up the story about the facial burns she suffered Aug. 30, saying she put drain cleaner on her face trying to kill herself. The case drew national attention to the recently divorced woman who works for a grocery chain, and brought in nearly $28,000 in donations to help with medical bills.

Storro faces three theft charges. Court records show spent about $1,500 of the donations on such things as dinners for her parents, clothes for herself and a bill for an August laser facial peel.

The accounts containing the donations have been frozen and her parents have said the money will be returned.

The hearing in Clark County Superior Court was the first time she'd been in public since a hospital press conference Sept. 1 when her head was covered with bandaging. On Wednesday, she had one small bandage on her nose.

Standing between prosecutor Tony Golik and her attorney, Andrew Wheeler, Storro spoke two words during her brief appearance, answering “yes” when Judge John Nichols asked her whether she understood the charges and whether she was pleading not guilty.

The prosecution doesn't consider her a flight risk, and she hasn't been jailed.

After the hearing, Storro walked about 40 feet from the courthouse complex to a waiting car and didn't respond to a barrage of questions from journalists.

Her trial is scheduled Dec. 20.



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