NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A Brooklyn man pleaded not guilty on Sunday to murder and other charges in the stabbing deaths of his girlfriend, their daughter and another child at a Staten Island hotel being used to shelter the homeless family.
Michael Sykes, 25, was arraigned in court after the discovery on Wednesday of the bodies of Rebecca Cutler, 26, her daughter Ziana Cutler, 1, and 4-month-old Maliyah Sykes. Cutler's older daughter, Miracle Cutler, 2, was wounded but survived.
Sykes pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a weapon.
"The heinous and violent nature of this tragic crime make it a top priority for my office," Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said. "The public should be assured that my staff intends to vigorously prosecute the case against this murderer."
Sykes was due back in court on Tuesday. He is being held on Rikers Island.
New York City police arrested him on Saturday at a Ramada Inn, where the city had been housing the family in lieu of a homeless shelter.
Chief of Detectives for the New York Police Department Robert Boyce said security cameras at the motel showed Sykes entering the room where the family had been staying. Sykes left the room a few minutes later and took a bus to a ferry that runs between Staten Island and Manhattan. Police believe he stabbed Cutler and the children before leaving.
Police said Sykes and Cutler had an argument on Tuesday and were seen at a delicatessen with the children early on Wednesday.
Sykes was accused of forcibly taking Cutler's cellphone, according to a sworn police statement. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Peter Cooney)