Abshire Pleads Not Guilty

Posted: Updated: March 17, 2011 11:24 AM EDT

Eric Abshire says despite the accusations and the evidence prosecutors may have, he's not guilty of murder charges and isn't the one who killed his new bride more than four years ago.

Thursday morning, Abshire was in Orange County Circuit Court for his arraignment. The Greene County native pleaded not guilty in the 2006 murder of his wife, Justine Abshire.

He was arrested last December in connection with Justine's murder. She was found dead along Taylorsville Road in what was first thought to be a hit-and-run accident. But after four years of investigating, police felt there were some things that just didn't add up.

For the past four years, Stephen and Heidi Swartz have been living through every parent's nightmare.

"I don't think when your child is murdered there's ever closure. There just can't be," said Justine's mother, Heidi Swartz. "It was very surreal actually talking about a trial date. This has been such a long journey for both of us. To finally have a date for a trial is a big, big step forward for me."

Eric Abshire opted for a jury trial. It's set to begin October 12.

"It's a little longer out than I think people might like, but it's better to take the time and do it right and get the outcome that we're looking for," said Justine's father, Stephen Swartz.

The trial is expected to last close to two weeks and weave through a long list of witnesses and evidence.

"I'd rather have it right than quick," said Stephen Swartz.

"The biggest thing is justice," Heidi Swartz said. "That's been, from the beginning, what our goal is - justice for our daughter, Justine… and that the person who murdered her is brought to justice."

In addition to first degree murder, Abshire is also being charged with lying to a grand jury while under oath.

The perjury arraignment was continued Thursday, and will be scheduled at a later date.