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N.J. mansion fire: Man pleads not guilty to murdering brother, family

Paul Caneiro is facing 16 counts, including four counts of first-degree murder.
Image: Paul Caneiro at his arraignment at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold, New Jersey, on March 18, 2019.
Paul Caneiro at his arraignment at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold, New Jersey, on Monday. Tanya Breen / NJ Advance Media via AP

The man accused of killing his brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew and then setting fire to their New Jersey home to cover it up pleaded not guilty Monday to 16 counts.

Paul Caneiro was indicted by a grand jury last month on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Keith Caneiro, 50; his wife, Jennifer Caneiro, 45; and their two children, Jesse, 11, and Sophia, 8. The family was found dead on Nov. 20, 2018, at their home in the wealthy community of Colts Neck, New Jersey.

Caneiro also faces counts of felony murder, arson, weapons charges, theft, misapplication of entrusted property and hindering his own apprehension.

Firefighters at the scene of a fire in Colts Neck, New Jersey on Nov. 20, 2018.WNBC

He was represented Monday by public defender Michael Wicke after his former attorneys announced that they would step down from the case. They said that they had discovered two conflicts of interest, which they did not disclose, while reviewing affidavits released by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

The affidavits revealed that Caneiro, 52, was about to lose his salary at the two businesses he ran with his brother.

Keith was frustrated with the amount of money Paul had spent from the accounts of the businesses — a tech company called Square One and a pest control business — and had resolved to stop paying Paul.

Jennifer and Keith Caneiro.Keith Caneiro via Facebook

Prosecutors have said that Paul shot Keith outside his home before stabbing Jesse and Sophia and shooting and stabbing Jennifer inside the home. He then set the house on fire before returning to his own home and starting a fire to "create the illusion that the overall Caneiro family was victimized or targeted," a prosecutor said last year.

No one was injured in the fire at Paul Caneiro's home.

When investigators searched Paul's car, they found a 9mm barrel of a Sig Sauer, accessories used to muzzle the sound of gunfire and a night-vision firearm fixture, according to the affidavit. Ammunition found in the basement matched shell casings found near Keith Caneiro's body, the affidavit said.

Also in the basement, police found a pair of jeans and a latex glove with Sophia's blood on them, the affidavit said. A knife with her DNA on it was also found at her burned home.

Caneiro is due back in court on April 15.