Trial Begins in Murder of Brooklyn Woman Who Vanished After Night at Manhattan Club

Michael Mele has pleaded not guilty to murder, manslaughter and evidence tampering in the death of 25-year-old Laura Garza.

Monday, Jan 9, 2012  |  Updated 7:29 AM EDT
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Michael Mele has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in connection with the death of 25-year-old Laura Garza.

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A murder trial is getting under way for a registered sex offender accused of murdering an aspiring dancer from Texas whose body was found in Pennsylvania more than a year after she went missing in New York.    

Jury selection is set to begin Monday in Orange County Court in the murder trial of Michael Mele of Wallkill.

The victim, Laura Garza, met Mele at a Manhattan nightclub in December 2008 and disappeared afterward. Her body was found in April 2010 near Scranton, Pa.     

Garza had moved to Brooklyn from McAllen, Texas, five months before her disappearance.     

Mele has several sex-offense convictions in New York, most involving lewd conduct in front of women or girls. 

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