ATLANTA, Ga. - More than a decade after an Emory college student from Miami disappeared, the trial is under way for the man accused of killing her.
Shannon Melendi's body has never been found, but prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to convict Colvin C. Hinton III in her murder.
In opening arguments Monday, prosecutor Mike McDaniel quoted Hinton as saying, "I didn't kill her. The demon inside me killed that girl."
On March 26, 1994, Melendi was a 19-year-old college sophomore in the pre-law program when she vanished after leaving a softball practice field where she worked as a scorekeeper.
In 1994, Hinton, 44, was also employed at the Softball Country Club as an umpire.
Hinton served 15 months in prison for kidnapping a 14-year-old Illinois girl in 1982. He was almost immediately considered a suspect in Melendi's disappearance, but until new evidence was passed from a former prosecutor to his successor in 2004, Hinton was never charged.
According to court documents, some of the case against Hinton is built around the testimony of several prison inmates who said that Hinton talked about the murder when they were serving time together.
Records show that investigators seized a bow saw, a set of butcher knives, masking tape and a vacuum cleaner bag from Hinton's suburban Atlanta home. Police have not said how the items tie into the case.
Prosecutors said they are also hoping to use the testimony of the women Hinton was accused previously of abducting. A judge has not ruled on the request.
Police said on the day that Melendi disappeared, Hinton had rearranged his schedule to leave the ballpark around the same time that she did.
Melendi's father, Luis, a Miami photographer, has worked hard for the past 11 years keeping his daughter's case in the public eye. But now, with the trial of the man accused in her death under way, Luis Melendi has been silenced by a gag order.
Shannon Melendi's parents and sister are in Atlanta, where opening arguments in the trial began Monday morning.
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