Markhasev stood by silently as his new counsel, public defender Henry Hall, entered the plea about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. The Ukranian-born teenager had pleaded innocent to preliminary charges earlier. Today's plea was in connection with a grand jury indictment that superseded the original charge.
With the arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court, the indictment was finally unsealed. To the surprise of no one, the document charged Markhasev with one count of attempted robbery, as well as a capital murder count alleging that the January 16 slaying of the 27-year-old Cosby occurred during an attempted robbery.
That means prosecutors can seek the death penalty against the honors-student-turned-delinquent. A decision will be made by May 30 whether or not to pursue capital punishment, they said.
Meanwhile, an attorney representing media organizations made another push to get Judge John Reid to unseal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings. Reid, who granted a defense request last week to seal the papers, will make up his mind at a Friday hearing.
It is believed that the grand jury was presented with evidence indicating that two of Markhasev's pals allegedly saw the murder. According to statements given to police, the three were high on drugs and stopped at a phone near the murder scene to contact a drug dealer for more, USA Today reported.
Today's arraignment was postponed from last week, when Markhasev's previous lawyers said their client could no longer afford to pay them. Reid appointed Hall and fellow public defender Harriett Hawkins to the case.