A lawyer for the 18-year-old man accused of murdering the 17-year-old prom queen found fatally shot in her New Jersey bedroom last week entered a not guilty plea on his client's behalf Thursday.
Al-Muqqadin Means, of East Orange, appeared in court a day after his former girlfriend, Aquilla Flood, was mourned by hundreds of friends and family at a church funeral near her hometown. He was arrested Monday in Newark, several days after Flood's mother found her body.
As he was escorted back out of the courtroom to return to the Essex County Jail, Means mouthed the words "I'm sorry" toward the side of the room where Flood's friends and family were seated.
He's being held on $750,000 cash bail.
Flood and her accused killer both attended Campus High School in East Orange, where she was voted prom queen by her peers. Friends said they had dated briefly but that she broke up with him when a relative told her he had a violent streak.
The girl's mother has told reporters that Means had been threatening her daughter since she refused to go with him to the prom, and that the teenager had told other relatives she was afraid of him.
Authorities said they have security camera video of Means leaving the apartment building in the hours before dawn the day Flood was shot, though they don't yet know how he got inside. There were no signs of forced entry, but the apartment door was unlocked. It's also possible he climbed the fire escape and went through a window, authorities said.
Flood would have graduated from high school this weekend. She had planned to go to college to study fashion design.
Flood's uncle, Saladin Small, said outside court Thursday that his niece was "sweet and talented" and that "she was going places."
One of Flood's friends said at her funeral that she was a precious angel who was respectful, lovable and helped anyone in need.
"She was a bright young lady; it's so sad that it had to come to this," the friend said.