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Former Missouri pastor pleads not guilty to murder

INDEPENDENCE, Missouri (Reuters) - A former Missouri minister pleaded not guilty on Monday to murdering an ex-parishioner, whom he had eulogized at a memorial service.

David Love, 50, is charged in Jackson County Circuit Court in Independence with first degree murder and armed criminal action in the March 31 shooting death of Randy Stone, 42. Love was a pastor at the New Hope Baptist Church in Independence, which Stone had attended. Stone was killed at his office at an insurance agency.

Love delivered part of Stone's eulogy a few days after his death. "Why? Why him? Why now?" Love said at the memorial service, according to a recent account of remarks published in The Kansas City Star. "Without answers, death seems so cold."

Love quit as pastor as police intensified their investigation and he moved to South Carolina, where he was arrested and returned to Missouri late last year.

His arraignment was postponed twice while he sought an attorney. Dressed for his appearance today in a dark business suit, though he remains in jail pending trial, Love entered his plea with a public defender, Molly Hastings. Love declined to comment on the allegations as he waited with a guard and Hastings outside the courtroom.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy, Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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