The eight-time absconder who was charged in a Little Rock killing days after being released from jail has entered an innocent plea in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
A June 17 article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed the lengthy parole-violation history of Dennis before his arrest. Abrams was found dead less than 30 hours after Dennis was released from the Pulaski County jail, where he had been held on an absconder warrant.
The head of the Department of Community Correction left the agency two weeks after it came under fire for its handling of the case; Gov. Mike Beebe requested an internal review and a police investigation; and changes have already been adopted under new leadership. Legislators, meanwhile, have conducted hearings looking at the case and the parole system as a whole.
Dennis, wearing a blue jail uniform and black-rimmed glasses and with his hands cuffed in front of him, didn't speak during the brief hearing Tuesday before Judge Barry Sims. In addition to the innocent plea, Sims set a Feb. 3 trial date and a Dec. 17 pretrial hearing.
Afterward, as he was being led with several other inmates from the courtroom, Dennis said he did not kill Abrams and was "innocent." His attorney intervened a short time later and said he would make no additional comments.
Prosecutors said they hadn't decided yet on whether they will seek the death penalty.
Some members of Abrams' family attended the hearing, embracing one another in the hallway after it ended. They declined comment.