Shockley murder case: Mother pleads not guilty - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Shockley murder case: Mother pleads not guilty

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Jerice Hunter court appearance - 9/17/12 Jerice Hunter court appearance - 9/17/12
PHOENIX -

Wearing a smile and a dress provided her by attorney, Jerice Hunter, the mother of Jhessye Shockley, appeared in court Monday. She pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Hunter is accused of killing her 5-year-old daughter and then dumping her body in the trash.

It's been nearly a year since Jhessye Shockley was first reported missing.

Even though her body has not been found, police and prosecutors are convinced her mother murdered the little girl.

After a quick recess, Jerice Hunter showed up in court Monday morning wearing a dress rather than the standard inmate uniform she first appeared in. Her attorney said his client is free to wear whatever she wants during her arraignment.

She spoke clearly when addressing the judge with her name and birth date. Her attorney, Scott Maasen, entered "not guilty" pleas on her behalf.

A week ago Thursday Hunter was charged with first degree murder and child abuse in the death of her 5-year-old daughter Jhessye Shockley.

"She's in good spirits you know, she understands the process, she understands that a case has started in terms of the criminal procedures, rules," said Maasen.

Maasen met with hunter after the hearing to discuss what happens next in the case. But said the two have yet to talk about a trial.

Jhessye Shockley was reported missing on October 11 of last year. A memorial still stands near the home she lived in with her mother and siblings.

Glendale police believe Jerice Hunter killed Jhessye and that her remains ended up in the Butterfield Landfill. Her body has not been found.

"I believe that the child is still alive," said Bishop Jeff Metcaff, who supports Hunter and has counseled her in the past.

"I can tell you her story is very consistent, very consistent. She's very innocent of this charge."

Maasen also maintains his client's innocence and says it's the state that must prove otherwise.

"They have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and they have to do that with reliable and accurate evidence," said Maasen.

The next court date will be an initial pretrial conference on November 1. Her bond remains at $500,000. Her attorney told us there may be people in the community that will come to her air in posting bond.

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