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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

COVINGTON, La. -- A man considered a 'person of interest' in the death of a woman near Covington appeared in court Thursday on separate theft charges.

Benson O'Brien III, 35, is the boyfriend of 31-year-old Bridgete Harveston, who was found strangled to death this past week. O'Brien, who is being held on several shoplifting charges, has become the focus of an investigation into the murder of Harveston.

During a hearing in court today, O'Brien's attorneys said their client is invoking his 5th Amendment right in connection to that case.

'We're putting the state and the sheriff on notice that Mr. O'Brien had asserted his right to remain silent and his right to have counsel present during any questioning or interaction with police,' said defense attorney Cameron Mary.

Harveston was killed Monday, officials say, in an incident in a rural area outside Covington.

Officials say, a neighbor dialed 911 Monday morning to report a woman in need of medical attention. That' s when paramedics came here to the scene and Harveston was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

An autopsy revealed Harveston was strangled.

Now attorneys say O'Brien, who is the grandson of the man who founded the famous Pat O'Brien's bar in the French Quarter, is waiting to learn what detectives' plans are.

'We haven't been informed by any of the deputies that they have a warrant for his arrest yet for the homicide, so we just wait and see.' But they have made it clear that he is a person of interest.' They have identified him as a person of interest, yes,' Mary said.

Sheriff's officials say they're still gathering evidence.

'Talk to any witnesses, anybody else that's willing to speak to the police,' said St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office legal adviser Brian Trainor. 'We're going to have our detectives work tirelessly to make sure justice is brought to this victim.'

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