PUEBLO, Colo. -- The man accused of killing a pregnant Denver woman five years ago was arraigned inside a Pueblo courtroom on Tuesday.
Donthe Lucas pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges, which means his case will head to trial.
The trial will begin April 2 and is expected to last three weeks. The defense on Tuesday told a judge it plans to seek a change of venue because of the abundant media coverage the case has received.
Police believe Donthe Lucas killed 21-year-old Kelsie Schelling in February 2013 after she told him she was pregnant with his child and drove from Denver to Pueblo to meet him.
However, 5 1/2 years after Schelling vanished, a cloud of mystery still hovers over her case. Schelling's body has never been found.
"The hardest part for me is missing her and not having her," said Aly Harms, one of Schelling's good friends.
Schelling's mother, Laura Saxton, attended the arraignment, hoping Lucas would confess to killing her daughter.
"I didn't expect it, but I did pray about it last night, hoping that God would just touch his heart and his conscience somehow," said Saxton.
That didn't happen. Lucas pleaded not guilty to murder charges, but for Saxton the wheels of justice are finally turning.
"I feel like it's a strong case. I know we don't have Kelsie and I know there's no smoking gun, but the rest of the evidence is super compelling," said Saxton.
Proving Schelling was killed will be the challenge for prosecutors.
"All it's going to take is one not to believe, and you don't know, someone could think if there's no body there's no murder," Saxton said.
However, it's a risk she knows she must take as she and others continue to search for Schelling. They hold out hope her body will one day be found.
"I'm not above groveling and begging someone to come forward. If you have information that might lead us to where she's at, we want to bring her home," Saxton said.AlertMe