PATERSON, N.J. (AP) — One of three men charged in the death of a 12-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet while riding a scooter pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and weapons charges.
Jeffery Ellerbee, 21, appeared in handcuffs and entered his plea through his attorney, Susan McCoy. He did not look over to the gallery at friends and family members of Genesis Rincon during the brief arraignment as he answered several questions from state Superior Court Judge Marilyn Clark.
Ellerbee's bail was continued at $2 million cash. McCoy told the judge that Ellerbee has no previous criminal record as an adult or juvenile.
Genesis was struck in the head July 5 as she rode to a family gathering in Paterson. She was kept on life support for several days until her organs were donated.
Nineteen-year-old Jhymiere Moore pleaded not guilty last week to murder and weapons charges, while 19-year-old Marshae Anthony has not yet made a court appearance on weapons charges.
Moore is being held on $3 million bail and is in protective custody at the Passaic County Jail because of the high-profile nature of the case. Tensions have risen in Paterson since Genesis' death, in the midst of what police say is a sharp rise in shootings.
Prosecutors have said Rincon was not the intended target but haven't offered further details. Prosecutor Jason Statuto said last week that authorities believe Moore and Ellerbee each fired shots.
Prosecutor Peter Roby left court without speaking to reporters Tuesday. Family members also declined to be interviewed.