Robert William Hodges, the father who allegedly killed his three children in September after choking his wife, appeared in court Monday where a judge set a date for a preliminary hearing in the triple homicide.
Hodges, 32, appeared unshaven and with disheveled hair in front of Judge David Rosenberg in Yolo Superior Court. He did not speak during a brief morning hearing that lasted about five minutes, but Rosenberg set a return date for Oct. 20 at 9 a.m., when the prosecution will present witnesses.
Prosecution attorneys said they expected testimony for that hearing to last about half a day.
Hodges previously pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder in the deaths of Kelvin Hodges, 11, Julia Hodges, 9, and Lucas Hodges, 7 months. He also faces one count of attempted murder for the alleged assault on his wife, Mai Sheng Hodges, and three “special circumstance” charge enhancements for lying in wait and committing multiple murders.
The charge enhancements make the death penalty a possibility in the case, but Yolo County prosecutors have not said whether they would seek capital punishment.
Yolo Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hayes told the judge that Mai Sheng Hodges was invoking victims’ rights under the California Constitution to refuse to be interviewed by the defense.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, who was also in court Monday, previously described the crimes as “willful, deliberate and premeditated,” during a press conference days after the killings. Reisig said the two older siblings had been killed with a belt but did not say how the infant was killed.
“I just cannot express how much pain we are in,” Xai T Vang, who identified herself on social media as the children’s aunt, wrote on Facebook on Sept. 29. “Still in disbelief this is really happening.”
A Go Fund Me campaign for Mai Sheng Hodges had raised nearly $35,000 by Monday morning and a separate account has been opened for funeral expenses at Bank of America, according to social media posts by Vang. A funeral for the children is planned for Oct. 7.
Hodges was arrested hours after the alleged murders occurred after California Highway Patrol officers spotted his car near Interstate 80 and West El Camino Avenue. Police had earlier been alerted to the triple homicide after receiving 911 calls about a domestic violence incident. Neighbors said Hodges choked his wife until she ran out of their second-floor apartment, and killed the children in the home.
Taking to social media after her husband’s arrest, Sheng Hodges said on Facebook that he had been a loving father and there was no history of domestic abuse, KCRA reported. Other than the social media post, which was quickly made private, neither Robert Hodges or Mai Sheng Hodges have spoken publicly about what happened.
Hodges remains in Yolo County jail without bail.