In Effingham County, the man accused of stabbing his 7-year-old niece to death is pleading not guilty.
22-year-old Justin DeRyke is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
Authorities allege DeRyke killed Willow Long sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning on September 7th or 8th near the family's home in Watson.
Investigators say DeRyke insisted he killed his niece to "put her out of her misery" after he says she fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick.
He will be back in court on October 22nd, he remains in jail on $5 million dollars bond.
Willow’s three-year-old brother is still in protective custody. DCFS is investigating the mother and DeRyke for child neglect.