The mother of Jhessye Shockley pleaded not guilty to abusing and killing the girl.
The mother of missing and presumed dead Glendale girl Jhessye Shockley was back in court. Jerice Hunter has pleaded not guilty to charges of abusing and killing the 5 year old.
At the hearing Hunter's defense lawyer withdrew from the case for non-payment. It looks like a public defender will have to take over her case.
Shockley has been missing since October 2011. Her sibling told investigators Hunter abused the little girl and kept her in a closet.
Investigators believe Jhessye's body was disposed of days before Hunter reported her missing.
Lisa Vance, cousin to both Hunter and Shockley, was in the courtroom for the hearing. She said she stands behind what Jhessye's sister told detectives.
Vance said she was there to seek justice for Jhessye. Vance watched over Jhessye while Hunter was in prison for child abuse. Vance made it clear she is not a supporter of Hunter, "never have been, never will be." Vance added "she did not give me any eye contact, she knew not to." Vance said she saw guilt and shame on Hunter's face while in the courtroom.
A search of a landfill south of Phoenix ended in June without finding the girl's remains. Vance believes Jhessye's remain are in the landfill.
Glendale police allowed Vance and other family members to go the landfill to leave balloons for Jhessye. "It was a sad day out there and do I believe that her remain are out there, absolutely without a doubt," said Vance.