David Jungerman, the 80-year-old Raytown man accused of killing Kansas City attorney Tom Pickert, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
And he will continue to maintain his innocence, Jungerman's attorney, Dan Ross, said outside the courthouse after the brief arraignment hearing.
"There will never be a plea in this case other than not guilty, and that was entered today and it will be entered at the next appearance and every appearance thereafter," Ross said.
Jungerman, a multimillionaire farmer and baby furniture maker, was dressed in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit and appeared via video for the 11 a.m. arraignment on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in last fall's shooting. He is being held without bond in the Jackson County Detention Center.
Jungerman told Judge Kevin D. Harrell that he understood the criminal charges filed against him. Jackson County prosecutors had announced those charges on Wednesday.
"At this time he is presumed innocent," Ross said Thursday. "It would appear the state and the press are trying to reverse that basic rule of law and generate a presumption of guilt by their press release and the reliance on a probable cause which in many ways are arguably very speculative."
He said jail has been difficult for his client.
"This is the first time he has been incarcerated for any length of time," Ross said. "He has no criminal history, he is used to his freedom, and he is used to being a successful businessman and very positive, contributing part of our community."
Jungerman is scheduled to appear in court next at 1:30 p.m. May 3.
Pickert was fatally shot in broad daylight on the morning of Oct. 25 in front of his Brookside home, just after walking his two sons to school.
Police soon learned that Pickert, a personal injury lawyer, had recently won a $5.75 million judgment against Jungerman in a civil lawsuit over Jungerman's shooting of a man at a warehouse Jungerman owns in Northeast Kansas City.
Jungerman has acknowledged shooting four men at that building in two separate incidents in 2012. In both cases, Jungerman said the men were stealing copper and he acted in self-defense.
Jungerman is also facing charges in a March 8 incident in which he is accused of shooting a man he suspected of stealing metal from his building.
During the press conference on Wednesday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office would make no further comment on the criminal charges.