Christopher W. Allman entered a plea of not guilty Monday in Russell District Court to charges that he robbed and killed Sarah B. Hart while she was on a morning run near Jamestown last week.
During the video arraignment, District Judge James Lawson directed the public defender's office to represent Allman, and he scheduled a preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. CDT next Monday, Russell County Attorney Kevin Shearer said.
Allman, 28, appeared in court about three hours after the funeral for Sarah Hart was held Monday morning at Freedom Christian Church Family Life Center in James town. The Hart family asked that there be no media coverage of the service. Hundreds attended a visitation Sunday.
An autopsy confirmed that Hart, 31, a mother of three, was 10 to 11 weeks pregnant with her fourth child when she was strangled to death Thursday morning. Authorities have said the fetus' death could lead to an additional charge against Allman when the case is presented to a grand jury.
Shearer said, however, that issue hasn't come up yet.
"At this point there has not been any discussion with my office about additional charges, but I'm sure that will be forthcoming following at least the preliminary hearing and probably the indictment process," Shearer said.
He also declined to reveal any more details about Allman's motivations in allegedly attacking Hart while she was running along U.S. 127 between Jamestown and Russell Springs early Thursday. More information might come out at next week's hearing, Shearer said.
Police said Hart and her sister, Elizabeth Roberts, were running about 5:30 a.m. CDT Thursday when Hart said she wasn't feeling well and started back to her car, which she had left in the parking lot of a Jamestown restaurant.
Roberts continued her run, then became alarmed when she couldn't find her sister. After driving around looking for Hart, Roberts called police.
Two searchers found Hart's body about 11:15 a.m. Thursday under a tree at the edge of a field about 30 yards off U.S. 127.
Russell County Coroner Larry Skaggs said preliminary autopsy results indicated Hart had been strangled. Investigators found the thick stem of a weed or vine wrapped around her neck, Skaggs said.
Kentucky State Police arrested Allman shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, about 12 hours after Hart's death. He is charged with murder, kidnapping, first-degree robbery and tampering with physical evidence.
Allman admitted during questioning that he killed Hart "for the purpose of taking her money" and concealed her body, state police said in a citation filed in Russell District Court.
Officers have not said how they were able to tie Allman to the killing so quickly.
Hart ran the route along U.S. 127 regularly, friends have said.
According to authorities, Allman lived in Jamestown but originally is from Florida. He worked as a mechanic in a shop in Russell Springs.
Allman is being held without bond.
Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.