Courtney pleads not guilty to Cross killing, additional charges

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Jake Magee
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

JANESVILLE--A Janesville man accused of the May 4 murder of Britney Cross pleaded not guilty to first-degree homicide Wednesday.

Clayton J. Courtney, 28, of 1602 N. Pontiac Drive, pleaded not guilty to additional charges related to the same-day stabbing of his roommate. Those six charges are attempted homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempted arson, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct while armed and resisting an officer.

The two cases were consolidated Wednesday, meaning the state will try Courtney for them together.

“The burden to separate the matters for trial is now on the defense, who can bring a motion requesting the court do so, and then the court will have to decide the legal issue,” Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary wrote in an email.

Defense attorney Joshua Klaff asked for a next appearance for Courtney at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at which the judge could set a trial date.

Police discovered Cross' body near the Rock River and Traxler Park the morning after her death. The blood- and mud-covered woman suffered multiple blows to the head, Janesville police Detective Mark Johnson said.

Lt. Keith Lawver said at a June press conference that police believe Courtney used a nearby rock to bludgeon Cross.

Police found evidence linking Courtney to the crime, including Cross' DNA under Courtney's fingernails and a pocket Bible and bloodstained clothes belonging to Courtney near the crime scene, police said in June.

Courtney allegedly stabbed his roommate Michael P. Clark during a violent fight the night of Cross' death. A stab wound near Clark's shoulder required 24 stitches, according to police testimony.

Clark told police that Courtney said he'd killed three people already and they were both going to die that night.

Police have not found evidence of any other deaths possibly attributed to Courtney.

Courtney allegedly told Clark's pregnant girlfriend he would cut her baby from her stomach.

Police apprehended Courtney as he fled his residence.

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