COLTS NECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man charged with murdering his brother and his brother’s family was arraigned Monday and pleaded not guilty to 16 charges.
His high-profile defense attorneys are stepping away from the case.
Paul Caneiro, 52, of Ocean Township, is accused of killing his brother Keith Caneiro, sister-in-law Jennifer, their 11-year-old son Jesse and 8-year-old daughter Sophia and setting their Colts Neck mansion on fire last November.
Caneiro limped into the jury box in a yellow jumpsuit looking calm, turning to look into the courtroom, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
His family was not present as he entered his not guilty plea.
The Monmouth County prosecutor says Paul Caneiro acted alone in the most heinous crime his team has ever seen.
Caneiro says he didn’t do it, but prosecutors say they have evidence that Paul cut power to his brother’s home and disabled the generator to lure Keith outside, then shot him in the back and four times in the head. Keith Caneiro’s body was found on the front lawn. His wife was shot and stabbed inside the home, and his children were stabbed multiple times.
Caneiro is also charged with setting his own home in Ocean Township on fire while his wife and two grown daughters were inside. After he left Colts Neck around 5 a.m., surveillance video shows allegedly shows Paul shutting off his own security cameras before the fire.
Prosecutors say the motive was financial. The brothers owned a small tech firm and a pest control company in Asbury Park. Paul was about to be cut off from the brothers’ technology company after allegedly stealing money from the business while collecting disability.
He only spoke in court Monday when asked if head any questions for the court or attorney.
“No, your honor,” he said.
He was charged with murder, arson, weapons offenses, theft, misapplication of entrusted property and hindering his own apprehension.
Court documents said the night before the murders, Keith Caneiro sent an email to “two business associates indicating that there was money missing from the business and that [Keith] would be discontinuing payment to [Paul’s wife] until he could locate the missing money.”
Paul Caneiro switched representation Monday, from prominent private attorneys to a public defender, citing conflicts of interest. They would not elaborate on details. Prosecutors say a plea deal is not on the table.
Caneiro is expected back in court with his new counsel on April 15.