The man charged in the largest mass shooting in Orange County history pleaded not guilty Wednesday to eight counts of murder a day after a grand jury indictment was handed down in an attempt to speed the legal process.
Seal Beach Massacre: Full Coverage
The indictment against Scott Evans Dekraai allows prosecutors to avoid a preliminary hearing.
"The defense indicated they wouldn't be ready for a preliminary hearing until the fall, and we didn't want to wait that long,'' said Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner.
A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Jan. 27.
The 42-year-old Huntington Beach man is accused of opening fire in a Seal Beach salon Oct. 12 and killing eight people, including his ex-wife. Also killed in the shooting were the salon's owner, Randy Lee Fannin, 62; Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65; Laura Lee Elody, 46; Christy Lynn Wilson, 47; Michele Daschbach Fast, 47, and David Caouette, 64.
Hattie Stretz, 73, was also shot, but survived.
Dekraai was taken into custody a few blocks from the salon. He has been held without bail.
Dekraai was indicted on eight counts of murder with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. He was also indicted on attempted murder.
He pleaded not guilty in November at an earlier arraignment after initial charges were filed.