An American minor pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of murdering an Irish exchange student in a Tokyo hotel last May as his Tokyo District Court trial started.

Prosecutors said the defendant, whose name has been withheld because he is a minor, strangled 21-year-old Nicola Furlong with a towel or something like one in the Shinjuku Ward hotel he was staying at early on the morning of May 24. The two had just met the previous evening after attending a concert in Tokyo.

The 19-year-old defendant, a musician, admitted to being in the same room with Furlong but stressed he only lightly pressed her neck and denied any intent to kill.