An American Fork man accused of manslaughter in the death of an Orem woman pleaded not guilty to the second-degree felony charge Friday in 4th District Court.

Vern Nicholes, 53, is accused of beating his live-in girlfriend, Joy Kay, 57, Orem, who died Jan. 16 at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Kay was admitted to the hospital Dec. 24 with head injuries. Doctors performed surgery twice to stop bleeding in her head but she never regained consciousness after the procedures.At Nicholes' preliminary hearing, doctors testified that Nicholes attributed Kay's injuries to a fall in her home. A nurse who cared for Kay said Kay told her that she had been beaten. An official from the state medical examiner's office said Kay's injuries could have been caused by either a fall or a blow to the head.

Judge Ray M. Harding set a jury trial for Aug. 5-7.