The man accused in the slaying of his toddler stepson, Jahi Turner, pleaded not guilty and denied all charges in a San Diego courtroom Tuesday.
Tieray Jones, 37, was formally charged with one count of murder and one count of felony child abuse causing death. He denied all charges. Both carry a 25-years-to-life sentence.
Prosecutors asked for $5 million bail.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney said Jones had multiple failures to appear in court; she said Jones had assault with a firearm, drugs and theft convictions which resulted in a 5-year prison commitment.
“His ties are all in Maryland and North Carolina which is where his family is, his friends are, and we believe he would flea and go back somewhere else where we wouldn’t be able to find him," Rooney said.
The defense argued his client had cooperated in the investigation the whole time and willingly returned to San Diego. The judge ordered no bail.
After the arraignment, the prosecutor said they will not disclose any new evidence that led to the arrest at this point.
"Cold cases are always an ongoing investigation and the homicide team never gave up on it and we finally developed evidence sufficient to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt and once we had done that we were able to file charges," Rooney said.
NBC 7 is asking a judge to unseal the San Diego Police Department's arrest warrant that led to Jones' arrest.
The warrant could contain details about why, after almost 14 years, law enforcement had enough evidence to arrest him.
The District Attorney is against the unsealing.
At a court hearing on May 12, NBC 7 San Diego, along with KFMB, will argue why it should be unsealed, citing the First Amendment.
Once Jahi went missing, hundreds of volunteers and police officers spent weeks searching for traces of the 30-pound toddler when he was reported missing in 2002. Law enforcement officers raked through 5,000 tons of garbage at the landfill, but came up with nothing.
The case had gone cold, but last week, the San Diego County District Attorney's office announced they had cracked the case and filed charges against the boy's stepfather. Though new evidence has been uncovered in the case, authorities have not found Jahi's body or remains, police said.
Rooney said the family has mixed feelings.
“The family is obviously devastated that it’s confirmed their worst fear that Jahi is in fact dead, but they are happy that they are finally going to get justice and resolution," she said.
According to police, Jones told officers he was with the toddler at the park when he left to get a drink. Jones said he returned 15 minutes later and Jahi was gone.
At the time of the toddler's dissapearance, his mother was deployed aboard a Navy ship.
However, officials were unable to locate Jahi's fingerprints on playground equipment, prompting speculation the child never visited the area, authorities announced Monday.
Officers interviewed Jones several times after the boy’s disappearance but did not have enough evidence to arrest him at the time, police said.