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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

Inmate pleads not guilty in beating victim s death

Just three months before he was scheduled to be released from prison for the 2007 beating of a woman, Rochelle Neal pleaded not guilty to murder after being charged with his victim s recent death.

Neal, 47, formerly of a North Detroit Avenue address, appeared Tuesday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, where he was transported from Grafton Correctional Institution west of Cleveland. Judge James Bates set a June 9 trial date and ordered him held locally on a $100,000 bond.

Neal began serving his sentence in October, 2007, after being convicted of attempted felonious assault for beating Shirley Walker during a domestic dispute.

Authorities said Ms. Walker, 53, died Jan. 11 in Flower Hospital after 1 years in a Sylvania nursing home. She was struck on the head and choked.

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