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Suspect pleads not guilty in slaying

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 8:03 p.m.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — A short, slender man speaking in a hoarse voice pleaded not guilty on Thursday to 11 federal charges, including the murder of a Transportation Security Administration screener and the wounding of three other people during a rampage last month at Los Angeles International Airport.

The charges could bring him the death penalty. The decision on whether the government will seek the ultimate penalty will take a long time and ultimately will rest with U.S. Attorney General Erik Holder.

Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, who was wounded before his arrest, occasionally touched a large, white bandage on his neck during a three-minute arraignment before a federal magistrate in the West Valley Detention Center east of Los Angeles. The center has a medical facility.

The defendant spoke in a near-whisper as he acknowledged his name and that he had read his 11-count indictment.

Trial was set for Feb. 11 in a downtown Los Angeles federal court. But that was a formality required to meet federal speedy trial requirements. Ciancia can agree to a delay later if his lawyers determine more time is needed for preparation. A pretrial hearing was set for Jan. 27.

U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said prosecutors continue to investigate the event, which wreaked havoc at one of the nation's largest airports and disrupted air travel nationwide.

Ciancia is from Pennsville, N.J., and moved to Los Angeles in 2012.

Authorities say the unemployed motorcycle mechanic arrived at the airport's Terminal 3 on Nov. 1 with the intention of killing TSA workers. Officials have said Ciancia had a grudge against the agency, but they have not indicated what prompted it.

A motive was not mentioned during the brief hearing.

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