SHELBY, N.C. — Three people accused of killing a toddler and a woman in Shelby last week faced a Cleveland County judge Monday for the first time.
Police said 22-year-old Miranda Woods and 3-year-old Liam Murray were killed when Mario Wilson, Morris Abraham and Aubre Sucato broke into the home last Thursday on Whisnant Street and tried to rob a third person in the house who had marijuana.
(Wilson, Abraham and Sucato)
On Monday, the judge asked the three accused killers if they understood that the charges of first-degree murder can lead to the death penalty.
Wilson's friend defended him.
"He (isn’t a) cold hearted like that," said friend Chris Spikes.
Spikes said he served time with Wilson years ago after Wilson went to prison for fraud. He's stunned his friend is now accused of killing a toddler.
"I feel sorry for the family you know, shooting a three year old or whatever, but I just can't believe he did that," Spikes said.
When the judge asked Sucato, she answered by saying she does understand the charges but she is not pleading guilty.
Family members said Sucato knew Liam and was best friends with the boy's mother. Investigators said Sucato was dating one of the other accused killers.
Liam's grandmother told Channel 9 that Sucato lived with the boy’s mother when he was born.
Authorities told Channel 9 that Woods had a 3-year-old of her own and there was an emotional vigil and a moving balloon release over the weekend for both her and Liam.
As the families prepared for the accused killers' court appearance, they were remembering the loved ones lost.
“He was so much,” said Liam’s grandmother. “He was the light of everything.”
(Miranda Woods and Liam Murray)
The three suspects were charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
The first court appearance for the trio was brief. They stood before the judge for a few moments to learn who their attorneys are and when they will be back in court.
Outside the courthouse, Wilson's friends would not speak on camera but they did defend him.
"The death penalty to me man is like mass murderers -- he's not no mass murder," said Chris Spikes.
The district attorney told Channel 9 that it's still too soon to say if he will pursue the death penalty.
The accused killers will be back in court on Nov. 22.
Funeral services for Woods and Murray are set for Tuesday.
Liam's funeral will be held Tuesday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Carpenter-Porter Funeral Home in Cherryville followed by a private burial.
Murray's family said there will be a superhero theme to reflect what the toddler loved in life.
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