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The state Department of Mental Health (DMH) will conduct an evaluation of 21-year-old Emma Adams to determine whether she is competent to proceed (January 2023 mug shot courtesy of the Boone County Sheriff's Department website)

Accused Columbia murderer pleads not guilty; victim’s family in the courtroom

20-year-old Emma Rose Adams remains jailed in Boone County (January 2023 mug shot courtesy of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department website)

A Columbia woman charged with killing an autistic Mizzou student then setting his body on fire has pleaded not guilty.

20-year-old Emma Rose Adams appeared in court via video Tuesday afternoon from the Boone County jail. She wore a jail jumpsuit. Adams waived arraignment and pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Jeffery Hilbrenner addressed Judge Jeff Harris in court. Adams did not speak.

Boone County prosecutors have charged Adams with second degree murder and three other felonies for the death of 21-year-old Samuel Michael Clemons, formerly of Jefferson City.

Adams remains jailed on a $1-million cash-only bond.

The Columbia Police Department’s graphic probable cause statement says Adams admits stabbing and killing Clemons. Court documents quote Adams as telling MUPD officers that she killed Clemons in self-defense after being beaten. The probable cause statement says Adams never called 911, and that Adams “attempted to destroy physical evidence by burning the victim’s body.”

A 939 the Eagle News reporter saw several members of Clemons’ family in the courtroom for Tuesday’s arraignment. They’ve been in the courtroom for multiple court proceedings.

Adams’ next court appearance will be April 10 before Boone County Circuit Judge Jeff Harris.

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