SANTA ANA — The Huntington Beach man accused of walking into a Seal Beach salon and killing eight people pleaded not guilty Tuesday in front of a courtroom packed with emotional family members and friends of the victims.
A preliminary hearing was set for Scott Dekraai, 42, on April 24, but his public defender, Scott Sanders, said it's unlikely he will be prepared in time.
Dekraai of Huntington Beach is accused of walking into Salon Meritage on Oct. 12, where prosecutors say he shot at anyone inside, eventually killing eight and injuring a ninth. He was allegedly targeting his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, with whom he was involved in a child custody battle. Fournier was among those killed.
Dekraai faces eight counts of special-circumstances, first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is seeking the death penalty.
Dekraai's 8-year-old son lives with his half-sister, Chelsea Huff, 24, and her father, Steve Huff. He is Fournier's first ex-husband.
Chelsea Huff said she is thankful for the community's support.
Fournier's brothers, Butch Fournier and Craig Burke, could hardly hold back their tears when they spoke of their slain sister.
Burke, who came from Lake Havasu, Ariz., said it's going to be hard getting through the holidays without his sister.
Paul Wilson, widower of victim Christy Wilson, said Tuesday's news wasn't about Dekraai, who he described as a "coward shell of a man."
"It's about the eight innocent lives that coward took from us," he said.
Michael Warzybok, who dated Fournier for about a year before she was killed, said he's still in contact with her son. He said he sees him once a week and will remain in his life.
"He misses her," Warzybok said.
Rackauckas has said he expects an insanity defense.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons, who is co-prosecuting the case, said Dekraai's defense could enter an insanity plea for him before the trial.
"He's not insane," Simmons said.