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Man pleads not guilty to murder of Johnny Cash's great-niece

Johnny Cash AP Graphics Bank.jpg

Johnny Cash is seen in this 1995 file photo.AP

A Tennessee man has pleaded not guilty to killing the great-niece of late country music singer Johnny Cash.

The Tennessean reports that 27-year-old Wayne Masciarella entered the plea Wednesday during a brief court appearance in Putnam County.

Police say they think Masciarella stabbed 23-year-old Courtney Cash to death after getting into an argument with her and her boyfriend.

Cash's body was found March 19 inside a wooden box at her home in Baxter. Her boyfriend, William Austin Johnson, also suffered stab wounds.

A motive has not been released, but Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews has indicated the stabbings were likely connected to drugs.

"This is a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs," Andrews said last week.

After Courtney's death, her grandfather, who was Johnny Cash's brother, released a statement on behalf of the family. 

“We ask for your prayers for the Cash family at this time. Courtney and her boyfriend are beloved members of my family and like you we have a lot of questions and emotions that we are beginning to sort through today..." Tommy Cash stated. "We are completely heartbroken. It is a time like this that we are grateful for our faith and trusting the loving guidance of God.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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