Innocent Plea Entered in Slay Case
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NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) _ In his first court appearance, a man accused of slaying his wife and three children and then dumping them into coastal waters before fleeing to Mexico declined to enter a plea, prompting a judge to enter an innocent plea on his behalf.
Christian Longo’s court appearance Tuesday came about nine months after the bodies were discovered in two shallow inlets stuffed into suitcases and sleeping bags weighted with rocks.
The case unfolded in quick succession last winter, after 5-year-old Zachery Michael was found floating in an ocean inlet near Waldport just before Christmas. His sister, 3-year-old Sadie Ann, was found three days later, cocooned inside a sleeping bag, a floral print pillow case containing a rock tied to her ankle.
A few days later, police began an international manhunt for Longo after the bodies of his wife, 34-year-old MaryJane, and their 2-year-old daughter Madison were found inside a suitcase in shallow water in a Newport marina.
His lawyer, Ken Hadley, questioned the details of Longo’s arrest, extradition from Mexico and indictment in court Tuesday.
He argued that Longo had been deprived of the chance to visit a Mexican lawyer before volunteering to return to the United States to face trial. Mexico does not allow extradition if the accused may face the death penalty.
``He didn’t know (what) he was doing,″ Hadley said.
FBI agent Daniel Clegg, who flew to Cancun and accompanied Mexican police during Longo’s arrest, testified that he never told Longo he could call a U.S. consular official, and said it was the obligation of the Mexican authorities to inform him of that right.
A trial is set for Feb. 1.