• Kyodo

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A 50-year-old Japanese man pleaded not guilty in a California court Wednesday to charges of killing his wife and young daughter last month.

Kazumi Taga entered the plea during his arraignment hearing before the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Taga was charged Oct. 4 with killing his wife, Yuriko, 38, and their daughter, Megumi, 4.

The bodies of the victims were found bound together with a diving weight belt and floating in Los Angeles Harbor under a docked boat on Sept. 21 by a maintenance worker, detectives said at a press conference Tuesday.

Police detectives believe Taga killed his wife and child on Sept. 7 shortly after the two returned to Los Angeles from a trip to Japan.

The next court meeting was set for Nov. 2. At that time, the date for the preliminary hearing will be scheduled.

If the judge determines there is probable cause to charge Taga, the case will go to trial.

Because Taga is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances, he may face the death penalty under current state laws.

Chris Apostal, the public defender assigned to Taga, told Kyodo News he has met with his client several times since last Friday.

Apostal added that so far he has been communicating with Taga, who has lived in the United States for more than 15 years, in English without the aid of an interpreter.

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