HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A judge has rejected a guilty plea from a man charged with shooting a Connecticut church's pastor after the suspect said he was innocent.

The Courant reports that 27-year-old Aaron Taylor pleaded guilty on Thursday to first-degree assault in connection with the non-fatal shooting in 2015 of the Rev. Augustus Sealy, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Hartford. In exchange for his plea, he faced nine years in prison.

Taylor pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine, meaning while he disputes some facts of the case, he acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict.

But after Taylor said "I believe I am innocent," the judge said she could not in good conscience accept a guilty plea form a man who proclaims innocence.

The shooting's motive remains unclear.

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Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com