A trial is underway for a man accused of killing two women and two children over drugs.
Prosecutors say Darrell Lynn Bellard and his girlfriend killed 38-year-old Dawn Yvette Brooks, her children 3-year-old Shayla Shante Sikyala and 4-year-old Shakur Sylvester Sikyala, and their aunt 41-year-old Mwasiti Sikyala.
The family was found dead inside a trash-filled apartment above a garage in Riverdale in 2010.
Bellard could have faced the death penalty, but the law was abolished last year. He now faces life in prison. At a hearing Monday, Bellard's attorney argued that because of this change, a jury should determine Bellard's sentence. But the judge denied the request.
During a preliminary hearing in 2010, a Prince George's County police officer testified that Bellard and T'Keisha Gilmer, 21, went out with Brooks and her children. When they returned to the apartment Sikyala told them that someone had stolen the marijuana that was left at the home. Gilmer told police that Bellard got upset and didn't believe Sikyala, and started to look for the drugs. Bellard and Gilmer then went out to their truck, got two guns and allegedly carried out the slayings.
Gilmer is expected to be the star witness during the trial. She's told police she helped Bellard carry out the slayings and has pleaded guilty to the crimes.