A Cook County judge on Sunday denied bail for a young architect accused of strangling his live-in girlfriend and leaving her body in their Grand Crossing neighborhood apartment late last week.

Standing with his hands behind his back, Devon Charlton remained silent as prosecutors laid out first-degree murder allegations against him at the Leighton Criminal Court Building before Circuit Judge David R. Navarro.

Charlton, 26, of the 6300 block of South Ingleside Avenue, was charged in connection with the Jan. 31 death of his girlfriend, Ninaa Edwards, 23.

Prosecutors did not say what they believe triggered the conflict that left Edwards dead inside her apartment in the 1400 block of East 70th Street. Authorities said the couple lived together in the same apartment with their young daughter, despite charging documents indicating they had separate addresses.

Chicago police discovered the woman’s body just after 11 a.m. after city dispatchers received a 311 call from a person who said that a person named “Devon” had killed someone in the apartment, authorities said.

Inside, police found Edwards lying on the bed unresponsive with red marks on her neck, Assistant State’s Attorney Luis Muniz told the court.

After learning that the victim and Charlton were dating, police detectives tracked his cellphone to O’Hare International Airport, where he was arrested just before 3:45 p.m. at the Delta Airlines baggage claim, according to prosecutors and police documents.

Police also found that Charlton had told at least four people, including his mother, that he had choked or killed Edwards before his arrest. Another person witnessed Charlton sign a guardianship form that gave his mother custody of their daughter, Muniz said.

Charlton, a Howard University-educated architect, wasn’t a flight risk and had strong ties to the community, argued his private attorney, Joshua B. Kutnick. He added that his client had gone to the airport to pick up his mother, not flee the jurisdiction. “The charge alone doesn’t make him a danger to the community,” Kutnick told the judge.

But Navarro disagreed, noting the number of witnesses before denying bail.

Charlton worked for the South Loop-based Studio ARQ and was a member of the American Institute of Architects Chicago’s Young Architects Forum, Kutnick told the court. The AIA described the forum as a network of up-and-coming architects and designers. An employee at ARQ who asked not to be identified late Sunday said Charlton worked as a project coordinator for more than a year with the firm but is no longer employed there.

Charlton’s mother attended the hearing but didn’t speak with reporters afterward. Members of Edwards’ family couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday evening.

Charlton is scheduled to return to court Monday for a midday hearing.

wlee@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MidnoirCowboy

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