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Not-guilty plea in designer's NYC hotel death

An Academy Award-winning songwriter's son told police he left his swimsuit designer girlfriend sleeping in a trendy Manhattan hotel room where she was found strangled and drowned, a court document showed yesterday as he pleaded not guilty to murdering her.

The newly released document provides the first detailed look at Nicholas Brooks' complicated account of the hours surrounding Sylvie Cachay's headline-grabbing Dec. 9 death. Brooks, 24, the son of "You Light Up My Life" writer Joseph Brooks, says he had nothing to do with her death and told police he never even went near the tub.

But a prosecutor said there was "no question" Brooks killed Cachay, 33. "The evidence in this case makes clear that when Nicholas Brooks left Soho House for the last time on Dec. 9, Sylvie Cachay was already dead at the bottom of an overflowing bathtub," Manhattan assistant district attorney Jordan Arnold told a court.

Brooks has been held without bail since his arrest. About a dozen members of Cachay's family converged on a Manhattan court for Brooks' brief appearance, where he uttered nothing more than "not guilty" before being taken back to jail.

Cachay was found half-clothed and faceup in a tub at Soho House, a hotel in the Meatpacking District. Brooks wasn't there when her body was found by hotel staffers who'd been alerted after water started leaking through to the floor below. He came back to find police at the hotel, a move his lawyer says supports his innocence.

But authorities have said no one but Brooks and a hotel staffer who briefly delivered ice - escorted by Brooks - were in Cachay's hotel room between the time the couple checked into it and when her body was found.

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