The Oklahoma man charged with the killings of a woman and her four-year-old daughter in Long Beach pleaded not guilty today to capital murder charges.
Brandon Ivan Colbert Jr., 22, of Tulsa, was charged with the killings of Carina Mancera, 26, and her daughter, Jennabel Anaya, who were shot near Ninth Street and Locust Avenue at approximately 10:20PM on August 6, on their way home from grocery shopping.
Police have yet to determine a motive.
Colbert allegedly hid behind a sign and opened fire on the family with a shotgun.
The murder charges include the special circumstance allegations of murder while lying in wait and multiple murders, as well as the attempted murder of the child's father, Luis Anaya, who was not injured.
Prosecutors are still deciding whether to seek the death penalty against Colbert.
Colbert asked Thursday that he be permitted to act as his own attorney, despite facing a possible death sentence and against the advice of the attorney hired by his family, Matthew Fletcher.
Fletcher told reporters outside court that Colbert “has a long history of mental illness.”
“It's been well-reported, well-documented,” Fletcher said. “In his mind he believes that no one can represent him better than himself, because he believes he's the one most interested in a good outcome. He's just terribly wrong.”
Colbert is due back in court on January 12 and remains jailed without bail.
He was booked in November in connection with the killings after DNA evidence linked him to the crime, police said.
Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna said Colbert had been in custody since August 27, when he was arrested by Los Angeles police on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and a DNA swab was obtained from him.
In October, police released two pieces of surveillance footage of the suspect, who was seen at a convenience store near the scene of the shooting and taking a Metro Blue line train, as well as upgraded Colbert from a “person of interest” to “suspect.”
Anaya described the incident to investigators, saying that a man walked up to his longtime girlfriend and their daughter and suddenly -- without provocation -- opened fire, then ran off. He said he did not recognize the man, nor did anyone else in the neighborhood.
City News Service contributed to this report.