SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The woman accused of killing a Google executive pleaded not guilty to manslaughter earlier this month.
Alix Tichelman, 26, now of Folsom, California, and formerly of Johns Creek, pleaded not guilty to felony manslaughter July 16 in a Santa Cruz court hearing for the November 2013 death of Google executive Forrest Hayes.
She faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
She also faces felony charges for possession, administration and transportation of drugs as well as misdemeanors of destroying evidence, engaging in prostitution and agreeing to prostitution, California media reports.
Tichelman and Hayes, 51, met through an online dating site and met up on Hayes’ yacht Nov. 22, 2013. According to Santa Cruz police, security footage on the boat shows the pair used heroin. Hayes began convulsing and died. Then Tichelman allegedly gathered her belongings and left the boat without contacting police.
She returned to Georgia. Police were able to lure her back to California July 4, 2014, after posing as a prospective customer on the dating website.
Tichelman was the former girlfriend of Milton resident Dean Riopelle, 53, the owner of the Masquerade concert venue in Atlanta, but better known to Hopewell Road residents for his large animal preserve specializing in primates – monkeys.
He and some neighbors came to loggerheads in 2012 when he approached the city to expand his collection of animals and open a preserve.
Riopelle died suddenly in September 2013. Tichelman was the one who called 911 claiming Riopelle had overdosed on drugs. Initially, no foul play was suspected, but the similarities in the men’s deaths were not overlooked by investigators. Milton has since reopened its investigation.
Both Milton and Santa Cruz police are looking for links in both cases.
Tichelman and Riopelle had a tumultuous relationship. Tichelman allegedly made several threats against Riopelle’s teenage daughter, according to a former nanny.
Two weeks before his death, Riopelle called police after Tichelman bit him. She was arrested for assault.
Riopelle’s friends say he had kicked Tichelman out of his home several times