Ex-con pleads not guilty in Phoenix homicide case

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Alan Matthew Champagne pleaded not guilty Thursday in a homicide case involving a man and a woman whose remains were found buried in a shallow grave in the backyard of a Phoenix home.

The 42-year-old man is being held in lieu of $1 million bail on two counts each of first-degree murder and concealment of dead bodies.

The victims were 32-year-old Philmon Tapaha and 26-year-old Brandi Nicole Hoffner. Their bodies were discovered March 5 by landscapers doing work for the new owners of a home where Champagne's mother formerly lived.

Champagne Investigators believe Tapaha and Hoffner were killed in an apartment in 2011 after an altercation with Champagne.

When arrested in the killings, Champagne was already in custody on unrelated criminal trespassing and aggravated assault charges.