Suspect faces a judge, has a lawyer appointed.
NEWPORT - Aggravated murder suspect Christian Longo looked calm and well-rested Wednesday when he faced an Oregon judge for the first time, saying he could not afford an attorney and asking the court to provide one for him.
Appearing from a small room at the Lincoln County Jail via closed-circuit television, Longo answered Judge Robert Huckleberry in concise sentences when asked whether he could hear the proceedings - "Yes, I can" - and whether he had an attorney to represent him - "No, I do not."
The arraignment broke off then for a couple of hours - long enough for the court to appoint Newport attorney Kenneth Hadley to represent Longo and for the two to confer.
The arraignment continued just after 11 a.m. on charges that Longo killed his wife and three children before fleeing the country in December.
The two court sessions were brief, lasting no more than minutes each time in a small courtroom packed with journalists, law enforcement officials, court staff members, a few curious residents and several students from a Newport High School government studies class.
In the second session, Hadley waived reading the charges against Longo and another court hearing was scheduled for Jan. 23. Longo did not enter a plea.
A grand jury most likely will hear the evidence against him before then and issue an indictment, said Lincoln County District Attorney Bernice Barnett. It is possible that other charges will be filed against Longo, she said.
He faces seven counts of aggravated murder in a case that at first mystified coastal communities when a passer-by happened upon the body of a young boy Dec. 19 in Alsea Bay and no one came forward to identify the child.
The mystery deepened when divers recovered another small body from the bay's icy waters on Dec. 22.
By Christmas, police had identified the children as 7-year-old Zachary and 3-year-old Sadie Ann Longo, and launched a search for their missing parents and youngest sister.
On Dec. 27, MaryJane Longo, 34, and 2-year-old Madison were found in Yaquina Bay on the east end of the Newport waterfront.
A manhunt for Christian Longo intensified.
Impromptu memorials of flowers, cards, candles and teddy bears appeared on the Highway 34 bridge at Waldport and at a Yaquina Bay floating dock near where the bodies were recovered.
Memorial services were held even though the family had moved to Newport just four months ago and wasn't well known.
The Longos came here from Michigan, where Christian Longo had a history of fraud and theft charges and left behind a trail of bad checks.
Longo disappeared from Newport before the deaths became public and was spotted twice in California before being arrested Sunday in Tulum, Mexico.
He waived extradition both to the United States and to Oregon.
The seven counts against him represent different theories of how the court may consider the crimes, Barnett said.
The definition of aggravated murder under Oregon law includes murder victims under age 14 and crimes with more than one murder victim.
Hadley said he learned earlier in the week that Longo might be returning to Oregon and that he could be asked to represent him if the need arose.
He had not seen any of the evidence against Longo before Wednesday's court appearance.
Hadley sought and won permission to hire another lawyer - Salem attorney Steven Krasik - to help in the defense because of the nature of the charges and the possibility that prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
Barnett previously said she has made a decision about whether to pursue the death penalty, but will not say what it is until court proceedings unfold.
Hadley is one of 16 lawyers who contract with the state to represent suspects in aggravated murder cases, said Ann Christian, director of indigent defense services at the state attorney general's office.
The second most senior of the state's contracting lawyers, Hadley has been working on such cases since 1989.
The state handles about 26 aggravated murder cases a year, Christian said.
Lincoln County Deputy District Attorney Paulette Sanders will prosecute the case with co-counsel Steven Briggs, senior assistant attorney from the state Department of Justice.
Seal Rock resident Angela Hall was one of several people drawn to watch Wednesday's court hearing.
Hall said she felt personally connected to the tragedy after MaryJane Longo's sister stayed briefly at the hotel where she works.
She and a friend sat silently in the courtroom looking up at the televised image of Longo, who wore blue prison clothes and sat on a white chair facing a camera.
"We grabbed each other's hands when he talked," Hall said. "It just gave us a feeling of `Oh, my God, he's really here.' '
Associated Press Christian Longo appears for arraignment before a Lincoln County judge via closed-circuit television from the adjacent county jail. CHRIS PIETSCH / The Register-Guard Attorney Kenneth Hadley (center) was appointed to defend Longo in the aggravated murder case.
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|Title Annotation:||Court: In Newport, Longo is arraigned on charges of killing his family.; Courts|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jan 17, 2002|
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