An Auckland man has denied murdering a teenage girl whose body was found in Manurewa - and he can now be named.
Vikhil Krishna, 23, appeared at the High Court in Auckland for the first time via audio visual link. His interim name suppression lapsed this morning.
A not guilty plea was entered through Krishna's lawyer, Ron Mansfield QC, before Justice Sally Fitzgerald.
Justice Fitzgerald said family members of the victim were listening to court proceedings this morning, and she acknowledged their "electronic presence" in the "virtual court".
However, one family member told the Herald it was "too painful" to hear the proceedings and she did not attend.
A spokesperson said Krishna's appearance would have "brought back all those memories" for a whānau who is still trying to organise a tangihanga for their loved one when restrictions ease. He said the family is taking things "day by day".
The 16-year-old's body was found near the Homai train station on McVilly Rd on September 11, prompting a homicide investigation that shocked the community.
Krishna was charged with her murder on September 17, and he made a first appearance at Manukau District Court.
Her death devastated and shocked her family, a spokesperson told the Herald, but they were relieved the police investigation led to an arrest.
They remember her as a "very beautiful butterfly" and someone who was popular among her peers.
A family spokesperson described the young teen as "gorgeous" ,"one-of-a-kind" and "so well loved" by the wider community.
They told the Herald she was full of life, easily made friends and loved animals.
She has interim name suppression.
Krishna will next appear in court on December 8.
A three-week trial has been set down to begin on February 13, 2023.