An Indiana magistrate entered a not guilty plea Wednesday for a man accused of bludgeoning and dismembering a 9-year-old girl whose sick mother had entrusted her to his care.
A disheveled Michael Plumadore, 39, was led into the Allen County courtroom in shackles and an orange- and tan- striped jumpsuit for his initial hearing in the Dec. 22 killing of Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Plumadore told police that he repeatedly hit Aliahna in the head with a brick, chopped up her body with a hack saw, stashed her head, hands and feet in the trailer where he lived and dumped her other remains nearby. He was charged Friday with murder, abuse of a corpse and removing a dead body from the scene.
Allen Superior Court Magistrate Samuel Keirns asked Plumadore whether he understood the charges and proceedings. Plumadore answered each question with "yes, sir."
It's standard in Indiana for magistrate's to enter pleas for defendants without attorneys. Keirns said he would assign a public defender for Plumadore and scheduled his next court hearing for Jan. 18.
The standard prison sentence for a murder conviction in Indiana is 45 years to 65 years. The other charges each carry maximum sentences of three years in prison.
About 60 people, including journalists and other defendants awaiting court hearings, were in the court room for the brief hearing in Fort Wayne. Afterward, deputies blocked the sidewalk outside the courthouse as Plumadore was led into a police van to return him to the county jail.
Relatives say they had considered Plumadore a trusted family friend. He had been caring for Aliahna and her 6-year-old sisters because their mother had the flu and Aliahna's stepfather works at night and sleeps during the day.
The girl had been dead for more than 24 hours before she was reported missing two days before Christmas.
Authorities have said they are continuing to investigate the murder and awaiting autopsy results. Allen County Prosecutor Robyn Niedzwiecki declined to comment on the status of the investigation, a possible motive or when a decision will be made on whether to seek the death penalty.
A memorial service for Aliahna has been scheduled for Thursday at a Fort Wayne church.