WEST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria County public defender entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ for 34-year-old Rickey J. Payne.

Payne is facing six counts of first-degree murder for the September killings of his wife and stepson, 32-year-old Quadreka S. Payne and 8-year-old Cael Thornton.

Payne appeared in court via video, Thursday morning.

He was wearing a face mask and when presiding Judge Kevin Lyons asked him to remove it, he complied but later asked to put it back on saying he had COVID-19 and didn’t want to infect those around him.

After the not guilty plea was entered, Judge Lyons set a Dec. 1 court date for review and a Dec. 12 court date for trial.

Prosecutors previously revealed on Sept. 30 that Peoria County deputies were dispatched to a West Peoria home on Cedar Avenue at about 8:18 a.m. on Sept. 29 after they received a call about a man having trouble with his wife.

Deputies said Payne eventually told them he and Quadreka got into a fight, over late night messages, where a gun went off in Quadreka’s face and he then shot her a second time.

While Payne was trying to clean up the scene, he said Cael kept coming downstairs and interfering, so he told the 8-year-old to go upstairs, he followed him and shot him in the head twice.

GRAPHIC: Details revealed in West Peoria double homicide

Quadreka and Rickey’s 15-month-old twins were in the house at the time of the incident but were not harmed.

Payne remains in the Peoria County jail on a $5 million bond.