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The death of an 18-year-old girl from Yuvalim was "a mistake," her alleged killer, a 17-year-old Bedouin shepherd, said yesterday. He was indicted in the Haifa District Court yesterday on charges of murdering Ma'ayan Ben-Horin.

The suspect, who was arrested at the beginning of February, contends that he is not guilty of murder, although he acknowledges meeting Ben-Horin, his attorneys said. The suspect originally denied any connection to the incident, but now argues that she was injured by a rock he threw at a dog that was chasing Ben-Horin, in an effort to scare off the dog.

Police and prosecution sources said the suspect's story is baseless, given evidence found at the scene and the signs of violence on Ben-Horin's body, which they said indicates an intent to murder.

District Court Judge Ron Shapira decided yesterday to extend the suspect's remand for about two more weeks, until a hearing is held to discuss the prosecution's request to extend the remand until the end of proceedings. In its request for a remand extension until the end of the proceedings, the prosecution submitted evidence indicating that the suspect's DNA was found under Ben-Horin's fingernails.

According to the indictment, the suspect killed Ben-Horin on January 8 as she was on her way to a job interview at a farm in the north. He is accused of hitting her several times, causing her skull to fracture.

Ben-Horin's body was found between Yodfat and Hararit, near the farm and the suspect's home, after a two-day search. The court imposed a gag order on several sections of the indictment yesterday, in accordance with requests made by the Ben-Horin family.

The suspect arrived in court with his hands and feet cuffed, and burst into tears at the start of the hearing. He is from a large and well-known family in the north, and his relatives did not attend the hearing.

Ben-Horin's father, who attended the hearing along with her two sisters and family friends, could barely take his eyes off the suspect, but none of the relatives or friend s attempted to speak to him.

More than 100 people were questioned during the police investigation of the murder, of whom roughly 60 provided DNA samples and underwent a polygraph test. The police got the break they were looking for when the DNA evidence from the suspect turned out to match the sample found on Ben-Horin's body.

The suspect was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning after his February 2 arrest, on suspicion that the murder might have been terror-related. When the Shin Bet ruled out that possibility, police took control of the case.

Jack Khoury contributed to this story.