Murderer of Israeli student shocks court with backflip

Days after pleading guilty to murdering international student Aiia Maasarwe, her killer stunned a courtroom by briefly pleading not guilty to her rape.

Codey Herrmann, 20, faced the Supreme Court in Melbourne on Wednesday to be officially arraigned after last week telling a magistrate he was guilty of raping and murdering Ms Maasarwe.

Her body was found near a tram stop in Melbourne's north on January 16.

Herrmann paused, stroked his beard, and declared "not guilty" when asked how he pleaded to raping Ms Maasarwe that night, as she headed home to Bundoora after a night out at a city comedy club.

Codey Herrmann has pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of international student Aiia Maasarwe (pictured). Source: AAP

There was stunned silence before his lawyer Tim Marsh asked for a moment with Herrmann, who stood in the dock at the back of the court.

After a brief conversation, Mr Marsh asked that Herrmann be re-arraigned.

He then answered "guilty", when asked again about the rape and murder charges, both times answering twice after getting ahead of the questions.

Ms Maasarwe, a Palestinian Arab of Israeli citizenship, had been in Melbourne only a short time and was speaking by phone to her overseas-based sister, Noor, when attacked.

"She was living a dream in Melbourne, a dream that ended up being worst (sic) than a nightmare," the sibling posted on Instagram, shortly after her death.

Ms Maasarwe's family were notified last week Herrmann intended to plead guilty.

Codey Herrmann appeared in court on Saturday charged with murder and rape of Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe. Source: James Ross / AP, file

During the hearing, Herrmann was asked to confirm that he had been unemployed and homeless at the time of his crime.

"Yep," he answered to each.

He'll face a Supreme Court presentence hearing on October 1.

Mr Marsh said the defence would seek a number of documents, including a neuropsychiatric report and a report on Herrmann's culture and background.

"There is potentially quite a significant amount of material in this case," the lawyer said.

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