Blake Leibel pleaded not guilty to murdering his girlfriend Iana Kasian

By Char Adams
Updated June 01, 2016 11:40 AM
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A screenwriter and comic book creator from a prominent Canadian family was charged on Tuesday in the murder of his girlfriend, whose body was found mutilated and drained of blood in the couple’s West Hollywood apartment, PEOPLE confirms.

Blake Leibel, 35, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, mayhem, aggravated mayhem and torture, his publicist tells PEOPLE. He was charged in connection with the death of 30-year-old Iana Kasian, who died between May 23 and May 26, authorities say.

“This is a serious matter,” Leibel’s attorney Alaleh Kamran said in a statement. “Mr. Leibel’s defense team requests that the public and media respect his right to a fair hearing in court.”

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced the charges in a statement on Tuesday, noting that Leibel faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Kasian was tortured and mutilated before she was killed and all of her blood was drained from her body,” Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef said.

Kasian’s mother reported her missing last month, prompting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies to go to the couple’s apartment on May 26 where they found Kasian unresponsive in a bedroom, suffering blunt force trauma injuries to the head, according to a police statement.

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Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Dave Coleman told reporters then that Leibel was inside the apartment at the time, KTLA reports.

“He had barricaded himself in the apartment, had placed furniture and bedding all around to prevent us from entering,” Coleman said.

Authorities said that the couple have a child together, but the baby was with a family friend at the time, according to KTLA.

Leibel is being held without bail and is schedule to appear in court on June 14, Bragman says.

Less than a week before the body was found, Leibel was arrested for sexual assault, Mokayef told the Los Angeles Times. He was arrested on May 20 and later released on $100,000 bail, jail records confirm.

Leibel is the son of Lorne Leibel, a prominent real estate developer in Toronto and former Olympic athlete – he competed in sailing in the 1976 Olympics, according to the Times.

Leibel moved to California in 2004 and received $1.7 million in monthly allowances from his family over eight years, the Times reports.