A University of North Texas sophomore was raped before she was strangled and set on fire, a Dallas County prosecutor said during opening statements in her accused killer's trial. Prosecutor Andrea Handley told jurors that after Ernesto Reyes raped Melanie Goodwin, a 19-year-old Arlington native, he put his knee on her chest and strangled her before burning her body. Reyes faces a capital murder charge in the Sept. 25, 2007, slaying. "Melanie Goodwin never had an enemy in her life until she came into contact with the defendant in this case," Handley said. Goodwin was killed after she gave Reyes a ride from a Denton convenience store, prosecutors say. She did not know Reyes, who was unemployed at the time and did not have a place to live since his girlfriend had ended their relationship. Goodwin had been working until nearly 1 a.m. handing out free Red Bull at a late-night game release at Dallas GameStops. She stopped at the convenience store to buy snacks on the way to her boyfriend's house. Surveillance video, prosecutors say, show them leaving the store together. Hours later, video from a Carrollton office building also shows Reyes burning Goodwin's body. Goodwin had just been accepted into the broadcast program at UNT when she was killed. She was active in choir, theater and her church. Reyes, who legally immigrated from Mexico, faces an automatic life sentence if the jury convicts him.
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