March 23, 2024

 Natalie Cochran, the Daniels pharmacist who pleaded guilty in 2020 to operating a $2.5 million Ponzi scheme, told Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Robert Burnside on Wednesday that she was not “not guilty” of murdering her late husband, 38-year-old Michael Cochran.

Cochran was charged in November with first-degree murder in Michael’s death. She appeared for her arraignment in Burnside’s courtroom via a video link from Federal Correctional Institute-Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., where she has been serving an 11-year sentence since May 1, for one count each of wire fraud and money laundering.

“Can you hear me, Ms. Cochran?” the judge asked, and Cochran indicated that she could hear Burnside.

The defendant told Burnside she had received and read a copy of the indictment.

“I’m not guilty, your Honor,” she said.

“The plea of ‘not guilty’ has been received,” Burnside said.

A number of media outlets, including national media, covered the hearing. It lasted approximately 10 minutes.

At the request of Raleigh Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield, Burnside directed media not to film the video screen of the defendant during pre-trial motions in which Cochran appeared remotely. Cochran is at a federal institution, and federal authorities had cautioned that the inside of the institution would be visible…

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