The Teaneck man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death and smothering her 5-year-old daughter after the child witnessed her mother's murder pleaded not guilty at a packed state Superior Court hearing in Hackensack Thursday.
Michael C. Brady said nothing during a first appearance on charges he killed 40-year-old Tam Marie “Tammy” Pitts-Gaddy and her daughter, Natasia, early Monday in Englewood.
Although he showed no emotion during the hearing, Brady let out loud sobs as he was escorted to a cell by sheriff's officers.
Brady's $2 million bail was continued and he was being held at the Bergen County Jail. Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Thomas Kearney said in the hearing that a knife was used, but it was not clear if investigators had recovered the weapon.
Authorities have said Brady and Pitts-Gaddy dated for about three years and she was killed during an argument at her West Palisade Avenue home.
Outside the courthouse, Pitts-Gaddy's friend Felicia Smith told reporters she had seen signs the relationship was troubled.
"I don't believe that Tammy did anything wrong to him. I know he was an abusive man toward her and she never came out and told anybody," Smith said. "It breaks my heart that my friend is dead and I don't know what I'm going to do."
Smith said Pitts-Gaddy recently told her she needed to talk about something "important" before the killing.
"It wasn't the first time they had fights, but we never thought he would take it this far," said another friend, Crystal Williams.
Englewood police said they responded to previous arguments at the home, but did not disclose if the incidents involved Brady. There were no restraining orders involving Pitts-Gaddy, authorities said.
Brady's family members declined to comment after the hearing. Defense attorney Paul Giblin could not be immediately reached later in the day.
Relatives confronted Brady on Tuesday when they couldn't reach Pitts-Gaddy, according to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli. Brady went with the relatives to her Englewood home and pretended to find the bodies after entering through a window, Molinelli said.
Englewood police came upon the grisly scene after a passerby saw Brady breaking in with the relatives and reported what they thought was a burglary in progress, according to authorities.
Natasia, who was a student at Quarles Early Learning Center, died from being asphyxiated by a plastic bag, the medical examiner's office reported. Her mother appeared to have died from "multiple stab wounds."
Officials said Brady, a 34-year-old native of Jamaica, worked as a custodian at Leonia Middle School through private contractor Pritchard Industries. He lived with his parents in Teaneck when not staying with Pitts-Gaddy.
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