A man accused of killing his longtime girlfriend, with her two children nearby, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Damon Edwards, 40, sat emotionless in the courtroom at his arraignment Wednesday.
An attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to two charges related to the homicide: felony first-degree murder and two counts of child endangerment, with an allegation of having weapons.
That morning, her children told officials, Edwards ran out of the house and told them not to go to their mother's bedroom.
Her 9-year-old daughter walked into the room to find her mother dead.
Veronica Smith, Mickette's younger sister, told NBC 7 she learned something was horribly wrong when her 9-year-old niece, Jaydaa, called her Friday morning, panicked.
"[She said], 'My mom is not moving, ' and I said, 'What do you mean?'" Veronica recalled. "'She's not moving,' [Jaydaa] said. 'Mom...I'm scared, I touched her arm, and there was blood.'"
The victim suffered trauma to her head and upper torso. Authorities opened a homicide investigation and later arrested Edwards in connection with the crime.
The judge issued a protective order in court Wednesday, preventing Edwards from any contact with the children.
Smith's immediate family was not in court today, but several aunts, uncles and extended family members attended the arraignment. They did not comment after.
Smith's mother, Dorothy Smith, previously told NBC 7 that the crime has shattered their lives.
"To me, I see my baby, when I just had her. And I'm just holding her, she's two hours old and she's looking at me. That's what I see," she said.
Court records show Edwards has had two domestic violence cases filed against him; the most recent case was filed in 2015.
Bail was set at $2 million.
If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.