COLUMBIA — Johnny Wright, the man accused of killing Becky Doisy in 1976, pleaded not guilty Monday to second-degree murder at his arraignment.
Dressed in a black suit and wearing gold wire-rimmed glasses, Wright stood beside his attorney, Cleveland Tyson, as 13th Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton accepted the plea and scheduled his trial for April 5.
Members of the Doisy family were present in the courtroom.
Doisy, an art student and waitress at Ernie’s Cafe and Steak House, was last seen on Aug. 5, 1976, leaving her apartment with Wright, according to previous Missourian reports. Her body was never found. Wright passed a lie detector test administered by Columbia police officers after her disappearance.
Wright’s former roommate, Harry Moore, came forward in 1985 with a story that led the police to issue a warrant for Wright. Moore said that Wright showed him Doisy’s body stuffed into Wright’s blue 1972 Toyota; her throat was slashed, according to previous Missourian articles.
Wright was arrested in Lawrenceville, Ga., after he applied for a job that required a background check. He was extradited to Columbia, but he was released afterhis family members put up $10,000 in cash for his bail.
A Boone County grand jury indicted Wright on Friday. The indictment replaces preliminary hearings where evidence would be presented.
Tyson said the trial will prove Wright’s innocence.
“I’m expecting the state to present the best case they can,” he said. “However, the evidence they have is not sufficient.”
Earlier, Columbia Police Public Information Officer Jessie Haden said, police are continuing to contact detectives who worked on the Doisy case and possible witnesses.
Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Hicks previously told the Missourian that the prosecuting office was treading on unfamiliar territory because no one in the office was there when the case was filed.
Tyson said he doesn’t believe Moore told the truth about seeing Doisy’s body.
“Johnny is not responsible for her disappearance, and we’ll show that in the trial,” he said.