NEW: Sheriff says he expects case to go to trial
Michael Plumadore makes an initial appearance in court
Authorities say Plumadore admitted to killing a 9-year-old girl
If convicted, he faces 45 to 65 years in prison on the murder charge alone
A man accused of killing a 9-year-old Indiana girl with a brick and dismembering her body with a hacksaw made an initial appearance in a Fort Wayne court Wednesday.
Michael Plumadore, 39, faces one count each of murder, abuse of a corpse and altering the scene of a death in the killing of Aliahna Lemmon.
Plumadore pleaded not guilty at the hearing, said Robyn Niedzwiecki of the Allen County prosecutor’s office. His next court hearing was set for January 18, and a public defender will be appointed to represent him.
A magistrate entered the plea on Plumadore’s behalf, CNN affiliate WANE said. The hearing was held amid tight security, the station said, with at least 15 deputies on hand as Plumadore was taken into the courtroom. He is being held without bond.
If convicted, Plumadore faces 45 to 65 years on the murder charge alone.
In a probable cause affidavit released last week, Indiana investigators said Plumadore admitted repeatedly striking the girl in the head with a brick as she stood on the front steps of his mobile home in the early hours of December 22.
Plumadore was baby-sitting Aliahna at the time.
He also told authorities he stored Aliahna’s body in garbage bags in a freezer at his home until that night, when he allegedly dismembered it with a hacksaw.
According to the affidavit, Plumadore told investigators he threw parts of the body into a nearby commercial trash bin but kept the head, hands and feet in his freezer.
Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the killing.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries told HLN’s Nancy Grace he was not surprised by Plumadore’s plea.
“He is going to let this go to trial,” Fried said. “I don’t think there will be a plea arrangement made in this case.”
Amber Story, the girl’s grandmother, had described Plumadore as a neighbor and close family friend.
She said Aliahna and her two sisters were staying with Plumadore for about a week while Aliahna’s mother recovered from the flu.
CNN’s Ashley Hayes and Phil Gast contributed to this report.