- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

COVINGTON, La. (AP) - A teenager accused of killing his father and 2-year-old half-sister in January entered a not guilty plea Wednesday to two counts of first-degree murder.

The New Orleans Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1h3WNdr ) the 17-year-old defendant, his hands and feet shackled and wearing a striped jumpsuit, stood quietly Wednesday as state District Judge William Burris read the charges against him. Burris said the defendant will not face the death penalty because of his age.

The victims’ bodies were found Jan. 6. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain said both had been shot at close range. The teenager was arrested the next day.

Strain has said the boy, who lived in Metairie with his mother, confessed to the crimes and cited a history of abuse by his father as the reason for the killings.

A St. Tammany Parish grand jury indicted Middleton on March 20 on two counts of first degree murder.

NOLA.com ‘ The Times-Picayune reports (https://bit.ly/1i2V2Zl ) the teenager’s attorney, Ravi Shah, asked Burris to set a date for a preliminary exam, a hearing that generally is held prior to an indictment being filed to determine whether there is probable cause to continue to hold a defendant in jail.

Shah said the public defender’s office originally represented his client and had asked for a preliminary hearing to be held in February. The district attorney’s office asked for that hearing to be postponed, he said. Assistant District Attorney Bruce Dearing said the indictment confirms there is probable cause to proceed with a trial. Burris agreed and denied Shah’s request.

Burris set a June 3 hearing date.

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