Man pleads not guilty in case of burned body found in desert - Tucson News Now

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Man pleads not guilty in case of burned body found in desert

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Manoukian appeared Monday for a not guilty plea on second-degree murder charges (Source: CBS5 News) Manoukian appeared Monday for a not guilty plea on second-degree murder charges (Source: CBS5 News)
Vrouyr Manoukian (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Vrouyr Manoukian (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Manoukian was booked into jail on charge of second-degree murder. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Manoukian was booked into jail on charge of second-degree murder. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A 22-year-old Arizona man pleaded not guilty Monday to the murder and disposal of a body that was found in the desert almost a year ago.

Vrouyr Manoukian is charged with second-degree murder. The burned body was found July 28, tied to the remains of a love seat and other furniture items in the area of 30205 N. Black Canyon Hwy. and Dixileta Street. The victim was identified as 24-year-old Matthew McMasters.

He is scheduled to appear in Maricopa County Superior Court on July 31 before Commissioner Steven Lynch.

Manoukian was arrested May 31 in connection with a burned body that was found nearly a year ago in the northwest Phoenix desert.  

A witness saw a Jeep SUV pulling a small trailer behind it fleeing from the scene of the fire, police said.

The medical examiner's autopsy determined McMasters died from blunt force trauma to the head. Police connected the body to a missing person's report.

The victim had been living with Manoukian and Randall Lee Young. Family members said the victim, Manoukian and Young had been in a fight. Manoukian allegedly broke it up by striking McMasters in the head, family members said.

Police arrived at the home and saw a Jeep SUV and trailer matching the description given by the witness. Manoukian and Young were taken into custody for questioning.

Officers said the men placed McMasters on a love seat on the patio in the fenced backyard. Young talked Manoukian out of calling an ambulance, investigators said.

Manoukian admitted that the furniture recovered from the fire scene in the desert belonged to him, police said.

A search warrant was obtained and served on the home. Blood stains were found in the back of the Jeep SUV registered to Manoukian. The blood was sent to the lab and was matched to the victim, police said.

A cigar found near the burned body was analyzed for DNA. The profiles were traced back to Manoukian and Young, investigators said.

Investigators said they were able to tie Manoukian's vehicle to the crime scene. Blood and several gas cans were recovered at the home.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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