Light & Verity

Guilty plea in grad student's murder

The former Yale animal-lab technician who murdered graduate student Annie Le in 2009 has pleaded guilty in exchange for a 44-year prison sentence. Raymond Clark III entered the guilty pleas to charges of murder and attempted sexual assault at a March 17 hearing in a Connecticut court. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

Le disappeared on September 8, 2009. Five days later, on what was supposed to have been her wedding day, police found the body of the 24-year-old PhD candidate in pharmacology—strangled and partly undressed—hidden inside a wall in the basement of the School of Medicine laboratory building where Clark worked. Police arrested Clark a few days later.

At the March 17 hearing, a prosecutor recited a litany of physical evidence tying Clark to the crime—from electronic ID–access records showing that he and Le had been in the same lab room to a bloody sock with DNA from them both. The prosecution also revealed publicly for the first time that they had evidence—including semen matching Clark’s DNA—to support a charge of attempted sexual assault.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Clark’s father, Raymond Clark Jr., read a statement in which he said that his son, now 26, “expressed extreme remorse from the very beginning. I can’t tell you how many times he sobbed uncontrollably, telling me how sorry he is, telling me how his heart is tortured by the reality that he caused the death of Annie,” the senior Clark said.

Yale also issued a statement after the guilty pleas. “We think first of Annie Le’s family, her fiancé and his family, and her friends,” the statement says. “We are relieved they have been spared the further agony a long and difficult trial might have caused. We hope today’s guilty plea and the sentence that will follow will help bring closure to them and to all in the Yale community who suffered by her senseless killing.”

Attorney Joe Tacopina, who represents Annie Le’s parents and her estate, said outside the courthouse that he believed justice had been served. “The most important thing for the Le family is to see Raymond Clark sent to jail for the better part of his adult life,” he said.

Last fall, another attorney from Tacopina’s firm had said that Le’s family was considering a lawsuit against Yale over its hiring of Clark and its police and security response when Le was reported missing. At the most recent hearing, Tacopina said that no decision about a lawsuit would be made until after Clark’s sentencing.  


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