By Marissa Perlman

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – The father and stepmother of 11-year-old Roman Lopez faced a judge for the first time since his death, both saying they’re not guilty.

Roman Lopez with his mother, Rochelle Lopez.

Inside the courtroom, Jordan and Lindsay Piper appeared virtually from the El Dorado County Jail Monday. Sitting side-by-side, the couple didn’t look at each other once, only glancing up from their hands to answer the judge with not guilty pleas.

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The Pipers are charged with torture and child abuse among other charges, and Lindsay is charged with poisoning.

“What they’re accused of is kind of unfathomable,” said one neighbor.

“Covid makes things a lot more challenging,” said Jay Linden, Deputy District Attorney. He wouldn’t say much about his plans to try this case.

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He did say child abuse experts were consulted both here in California and in New York. But he says he’s preparing as the preliminary hearing is just weeks away.

“We will be ready for the hearing,” Linden said.

The Lopez family spokesperson, Kristin Jabs Ellenburg, says Roman’s mom Rochelle was expecting the couple to plead “not guilty.”

“Everybody who knows them kind of figured they won’t accept any responsibility for anything,” she said.

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Now the Pipers plan for their defense, a preliminary hearing just weeks away. Jordan Piper is hiring an attorney with more than 35 years of criminal defense experience. But Lindsay Piper said in court that she could not afford a lawyer and was assigned a public defender.

Marissa Perlman