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Public defender enters not guilty pleas for parents of Navin Jones

A gavel rests on a judge's bench in a blurry courtroom. The text "WCBU Courts" sits on top of that photo.

The parents of Navin Jones pleaded not guilty Thursday to six counts of first-degree murder apiece in connection with the 8-year-old’s death.

Stephanie Jones, 35, and Brandon Walker, 40, appeared at an arraignment before Judge John Vespa on video from the Peoria County Jail, where they remain in custody on $1 million bond each.

Public defender Nathan Bach entered the not guilty pleas on their behalf, waiving explanation of the charges and possible sentences. Both Walker and Jones indicated they will attempt to hire private attorneys before trial.

The Peoria County State’s Attorney's office have filed “brutal-and-heinous” murder charges against Walker and Jones that could result in life sentences if they are convicted. Prosecutors also have filed motions to increase their bonds.

After Bach indicated neither defendant had yet spoken with attorneys, Vespa continued hearings on the motions for bond increases to 9 a.m. April 21. Jury trials have been scheduled for July 11.

Navin Jones died March 29 after he was found unresponsive at his parents’ Peoria home on Gale Avenue. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said the cause of death was due to extreme abuse and neglect.

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.