updated 3/11/2009 6:13:05 PM ET 2009-03-11T22:13:05

An Alabama man has withdrawn his guilty plea to capital murder charges in the deaths of his four children tossed from a coastal bridge last year.

Lam Luong pleaded guilty last week and told the judge he wanted to be put to death. But court officials said he withdrew that plea Wednesday and pleaded not guilty.

The 38-year-old Vietnamese refugee apparently did not understand that Alabama law requires a trial in a capital murder case even with a guilty plea. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

Attorneys could not be reached for comment on his decision because they were screening jurors for Luong's trial, which will begin when a jury is seated, possibly by Monday.

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