One teenager bawled in front of the judge. The other stood unfazed, occasionally gazing upwards.
Brian Lee Flowers, 16, and Stafon Edward Thompson, 17, appeared in court for the first time Wednesday, accused in the savage murders of a south Minneapolis mother and her 10-year-old son.
They are being held in lieu of $1 million bail each for their role in the killings in which they apparently used a golf club, knives and a TV as weapons. Their brief arraignments were unusually crowded with media and family members of the victims and the suspects.
Neither teen entered a plea. Both are scheduled to reappear in Hennepin County District Court on July 17.
Thompson and Flowers are each charged with four counts of first-degree murder of Katricia Daniels and 10-year-old Robert Shepard. They blamed each other in their statements to police.
Flowers wept uncontrollably as he struggled to acknowledge his name and birth date in court. When he glanced towards his sobbing mother, she looked down. Her tears fell to the carpet.
Flowers wailed loudly as he left the courtroom. His family declined to comment.
His lawyer, Andrew Small, said the 16-year-old was to be a senior at Washburn High School this fall. It's too soon to talk about possible pleas, he said, as he had not yet read over the police reports.
Thompson hardly flinched during his hearing. Afterward, Rodney Thompson said his little brother wouldn't kill his best friend's mother and little brother.
"That's why this doesn't make sense to me," said Thompson, 25. "He loved that lady. He called her 'Mom.'"
Police have said Flowers and Thompson and Daniels' 15-year-old son are affiliated with a gang. The son is in jail in Chicago for an unrelated shooting.
The gruesome details of what happened a week ago today have horrified residents of the Kingfield neighborhood as well as seasoned police investigators and prosecutors.
The criminal complaints say Daniels was stabbed more than 100 times. Bloody foot, hand and fingerprints were spread through the house. The boy suffered a fatal blow to the head from a television set. Their bodies were discovered by Daniels' boyfriend, Joe Williams.
Their 1-year-old daughter was unharmed but covered in blood.
"This is extremely difficult for everybody involved," Small said, asking the public to keep an open mind. He acknowledged the criminal details are awful, but said, "There's a bigger story that needs to be unraveled and uncovered."
As to why Flowers was crying, Small said, "He's a 16-year-old kid. This is difficult. It would be difficult for a 40-year-old man."
Rodney Thompson said the deaths sound like something out of a horror movie. He said the truth will come out soon.
"Was my brother at the wrong place at the wrong time? Yeah," Thompson said. "But when I tell him to stay strong, all he tells me is, 'I didn't do it, Bro.'"
Thompson was represented by public defender Jeanette Boerner. She did not return a call seeking a comment.
While Small and Rodney Thompson declined to talk about motive, Carlos Estes, a family friend of the victims', said he believes robbery was a motive because there was about $1,500 in the house. Estes said the family intends to attend the suspects' court appearances.
"They're very, very adamant about being here to show these individuals are grieving," said Estes, who like many family members is from Chicago. "They want the people of Minneapolis to know they're hurting, they're grieving; it's almost uncontrollable."