In front of a packed courtroom filled with family and friends of the victim, James Lee Troutman pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges stemming from the death of 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman in May.
Troutman, 24, who was surrounded by three guards, sat silently with his head down as the prosecution read the charges aloud. They included first and second degree murder, rape of a child with intent to harm, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and abuse of a corpse.
Skyler's father, Eric Kauffman, was visibly upset and wept through most of the proceeding. When Troutman was escorted from the courtroom, the elder Kauffman's grief changed to anger. Two family members had to physically restrain him in his seat.
The trial is slated to begin at the county courthouse Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, at 9 a.m. Pre-trial motions will be heard Oct. 28 at 9 a.m.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman is personally handling the prosecution of the case, and she's seeking the death penalty for Troutman.
"We only pursue the death penalty in cases where the facts are of such an egregiousness," said Ferman. "The history of the case is so serious that we think it's warranted. To seek the death penalty in a homicide is a very serious statement about the nature of the crime. We do that very rarely."
To support their pursuit of the death penalty, the prosecution filed a total of three aggravating factors.
"The first and most significant is the age of the child—she's a 9-year-old victim," said Ferman. "The second being that the murder took place along with other significant felonies, and the third, to eliminate a witness to a crime."
When asked if she anticipated an insanity defense, Ferman stated she wouldn't be surprised.
"Certainly, in a case where someone has a history of any sort of mental illness or emotional disturbance, I would expect that a defense attorney would examine the possibility of an insanity defense," said Ferman. "It's really not appropriate for me to comment on what that would be, what it might look like, or whether or not it will come."
Troutman is represented by defense attorney William Craig Penglase, of the Penglase & Benson firm located in Doylestown.
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