SANTA CRUZ -- Attorneys for the suspected call girl charged in the death of a Google executive said Wednesday she had no intent to harm or kill 51-year-old Forrest Hayes, who died from a lethal heroin injection on his yacht.
"It's clearly not a murder case," said public defender Larry Biggam, who along with colleague Athena Reis, now represents 26-year-old Alix Tichelman.
"Why would she?" Biggam asked outside Santa Cruz County Superior Court. "He was a lucrative source of income to her. She appreciated his generosity and she had a motive -- if any -- to elongate, not end, the relationship. At the end of the day, all the sensation and the hype is not evidence."
Santa Cruz police have said they obtained video surveillance footage from the yacht that shows Tichelman injecting executive Forrest Hayes with a lethal dose of heroin Nov. 23.
Wednesday morning, more than 20 media representatives crammed inside a Santa Cruz courtroom to watch Tichelman plead not guilty to felony manslaughter, drug and prostitution charges. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, Judge Timothy Volkmann said.
Tichelman appeared without makeup in red jail jumpsuit. She entered court with a small smile and was generally subdued and looked down during the hearing.
When Volkmann asked her if she would waive her right to a speedy trial, she answered, "Yes, sir." Volkmann ordered her back in court Oct. 20 to set a preliminary hearing date. He denied a motion to reduce her bail. Reis, Tichelman's co-counsel, said Tichelman's family offered to house her in Folsom and ensure she submitted to drug tests. She remains in Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $1.5 million bail, according to jail records.
Tichelman's father, SynapSense Corp. CEO Bart Tichelman, attended the hearing with Tichelman's mother and sister. They declined to comment outside court.
Tichelman caused an international stir this month after authorities accused her of killing Hayes in his yacht at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor. Hayes was married with five children and was thought of as a good family man by his Google colleagues, who were stunned by the news.
Tichelman is charged with felony manslaughter, as well as felonies for possession, administration and transportation of drugs, according to court documents. She also faces misdemeanor charges of destroying evidence, engaging in prostitution and agreeing to prostitution.
Tichelman, originally from Georgia, was living in Folsom with her family when authorities set up an elaborate ruse to lure her back to Santa Cruz and arrest her July 4.
Police said she met Hayes on the website SeekingArrangement.com. The site stated that it helps "sugar daddies" meet "sugar babies" for "mutually beneficial relationships and arrangements." The site has been redesigned since the widespread attention of Tichelman's arrest. Website leaders deny links to prostitution and say the redesign was not related to the Tichelman case.
Tichelman and Hayes arranged to meet on Hayes' 50-foot yacht, Escape, in the Santa Cruz harbor on Nov. 22, 2013.
A surveillance video from the boat's cabin shows Tichelman inject herself with heroin, then shows her prepare another needle and inject Hayes, according to Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.
Hayes suffered an overdose and fell unconscious while Tichelman stayed in the cabin for seven minutes, police said. She coolly gathered her belongings in her purse, cleaned off a counter and stepped over Hayes -- with a glass of red wine in hand -- several times.
Clark described her actions as "glacially cold," and said she did nothing to help Hayes, who was found dead the next morning by the yacht's captain.
She fled, but video footage obtained months later through a court order helped investigators identify her -- as did her tattoos and a fingerprint she left on the wine glass, police said.
Investigators tracked her for months and kept tabs on her home in Folsom. They monitored her activity on Facebook and Twitter. When she said in a Facebook post in late June she would return to Georgia, police posed as a wealthy john on SeekingArrangement.com and even deposited $100 in her bank account to lure her to back to Santa Cruz County.
When Tichelman arrived at an upscale hotel July 4, police arrested and questioned her. Police said Tichelman boasted of having 200 clients as a call girl, although friends of hers said that figure likely is exaggerated.
A probe widened into Tichelman's case late last week when Georgia authorities reopened an inquiry into her former boyfriend's death. Atlanta music venue owner Dean Riopelle also died of a heroin overdose about two months before Hayes died, authorities said.
Tichelman had been living with Riopelle, and she made the 911 call to report his death in their house.
At the time, a coroner said the death was accidental.