FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A northern Indiana magistrate entered a not guilty plea Wednesday for a man accused of bludgeoning and dismembering a 9-year-old girl whose sick mother had entrusted her to his care.
Michael Plumadore, 39, was led into the Allen County courtroom in shackles and wearing an orange- and tan- striped jumpsuit and his hair disheveled, for his initial hearing in the Dec. 22 killing of Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon.
Allen Superior Court Magistrate Samuel Keirns asked Plumadore whether he understood the charges and proceedings. Plumadore answered each question with "yes sir."
Keirns said he would assign a public defender for Plumadore and scheduled his next court hearing for Jan. 18.
The standard prison sentence for a murder conviction in Indiana is 45 years to 65 years. The other charges each carry maximum sentences of three years in prison.
About 60 people attended the brief hearing in Fort Wayne. Afterward, deputies blocked the sidewalk outside the courthouse as Plumadore was led into a police van to return him to the county jail.
Relatives say they had considered Plumadore a trusted family friend. He had been caring for Aliahna and her 6-year-old sisters because their mother had the flu and Aliahna's stepfather works at night and sleeps during the day.
The girl had been dead for more than 24 hours before she was reported missing two days before Christmas.
Authorities have said they are continuing to investigate the murder and the results of the autopsy are still pending. A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday for Aliahna at a Fort Wayne church.