MONTPELIER, Vt. – A suspect in the first murder in Vermont’s capital city in almost a century, pleaded not guilty Monday and was ordered held without bail.
Jayveon Caballero, 30, waved to his supporters when he was brought in a Harsh courtroom, while wearing a red T-shirt and restrained with chains. He came in a not-guilty plea to second-degree murder in the death of the 33-year-old Markus Austin. He was out of the courtroom, he said: “I love you” for the supporters.
Vermont Superior Court Judge John Rents ordered Caballero held without bail pending another hearing later this week.
Montpelier police chief Anthony Facos said Austin’s murder was the first murder in Montpelier since the 1920s, when a woman shot her husband. Montpelier, with about 7,500 inhabitants, and is the smallest capital city of the country.
Caballero was arrested this month in Deltona, Florida, where police say he fled after the Jan. 22 shooting. Austin’s body was found in a parking lot in Montpelier apartment complex is situated just a mile (1.2 km) of the Vermont Statehouse.
Police say Austin was involved in an altercation with the Caballero’s girlfriend outside a bar in Barre before he was shot once in the chest, a few hours later. Caballero then went to White River Junction, where he was on a bus to New York City, authorities said.
Caballero’s supporters, some of whom called themselves the “J-Team,” described him as a good man, who was caught in a night that the mother of Caballero ‘ s toddler daughter is called a “disaster”.
“We all make mistakes. He’s not a bad person. He has the biggest heart in this world,” Shannae Harvin said outside the court.
Facos on Monday would not say how police tracked Caballero to Florida.
“This is a case that certainly shocked us all,” Facos said. “We threw everything we had from the get-go, when it has occurred. It does not change the character of Montpelier.”
This story is corrected to show Caballero is 30, not 29.