Sex Offender Pleads Not Guilty to Murder of Teen Girl

A registered sex offender pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge in the death of a 13-year-old Ohio girl and was ordered held on a $5.3 million bond.

Esme Kenney's body was found about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning in a wooded area about a block from her home. Police say Kenney left her home Saturday afternoon to go jogging around a nearby reservoir.

Anthony Kirkland, 40, of Cincinnati, was arrested Sunday after police found him in nearby woods. Police searched for hours before finding Kenney's body.

Kirkland was being held in the Hamilton County jail. A message seeking comment from his attorney, John Keller, was left at Keller's office Monday.

Kenney was in the seventh grade at Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts, majoring in vocal and instrumental music. Grief counselors were at the school Monday, and many students and staff wore pink and red ribbons to honor Kenney, said Janet Walsh, a spokeswoman for Cincinnati Public Schools.

Students at the school started taking the Ohio Graduation Test on Monday, but anyone who did not feel up to taking the test in the wake of their classmate's death will be allowed to make up the test later, Walsh said.

Police have not released details of Kenney's death. Court records show Kirkland was convicted in March 2008 of soliciting sex from a 13-year-old girl and was jailed until Oct. 20, 2008. He was convicted of two counts of unlawful restraint in 2007.

Since 2005, he has been acquitted of charges of public indecency, inducing panic, endangering children, rape and aggravated burglary.

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