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First appearance for suspect in boy's decapitation

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Jeremiah Lee Wright entered no plea during Tuesday's court appearance
  • He is accused of killing and decapitating his 7-year-old, handicapped son
  • Prosecutors have until December to bring formal charges, his lawyer says

(CNN) -- A father accused of decapitating his 7-year-old disabled son made his first appearance in court Tuesday without entering a plea, his newly appointed lawyer said.

Police say Jeremiah Lee Wright has admitted killing 7-year-old Jori Liritte, who had cerebral palsy and was unable to speak or feed himself, and intentionally leaving the boy's head where his mother would find it. The 30-year-old suspect appeared before a judge in Lafourche Parish, attorney Kerry Cuccia said.

Judge Bruce Simpson set a September 16 arraignment date, and prosecutors have until December to bring formal charges against Wright, Cuccia said.

Cuccia, a lawyer with the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, was named to defend Wright during the hearing and had not had a chance to discuss the case with his client, he said. Asked about the accusations against Wright, he said, "The only thing I know of the allegations is what I read in the press."

Though a capital defense lawyer, Cuccia said it was "too early to tell" whether Wright would face a death-penalty prosecution.

"The one thing I am confident of is that the Lafourche Parish district attorney will look at all the evidence before he determines how to proceed," Cuccia said.

A volunteer firefighter spotted Jori's head by the side of a city street in Thibodaux, about 65 miles southwest of New Orleans, on Sunday, police said. Wright initially tried to tell police the head was from a CPR dummy but eventually admitted to investigators that he had killed the boy, they said.

"During the interview, Wright said he was taking care of (the child) for so many years, and he just started to look at him as no longer his son, just an inanimate object," Thibodaux Police Chief Scott Silverii said. "He and the child's mother had some issues. And he purposely put the child's head in a position for her to see it."

Silverii said police had responded to at least one other recent call at the house, a domestic argument over money.

CNN's Rick Martin contributed to this report.