A Cedar Falls man has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge. 23-year-old Joseph Lawrence entered the plea in Black Hawk County District court Monday. Lawrence is charged in the beating and stabbing death of Jason Gage, a 29-year-old openly gay man whose body was found by police in his downtown Waterloo apartment last month. Lawrence was arrested on the murder charge Marsh 14th, after allegedly confessing to the killing. Lawrence’s girlfriend told police that Lawrence attacked Gage because Gage made sexual advances toward him. In the wake of the murder, a Waterloo Human Rights group called for a change in the city code to protect homosexuals against hate crimes. Lawrence remains in the Black Hawk County jail on a one million dollar bond. His trial date has not been set.
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