One of two men accused in the fatal 2017 robbery and beating of a Charlotte Uber driver pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge on Thursday.
Diontray Adams, 26, entered his plea during a short appearance in a Mecklenburg County courtroom, witnessed by more than three dozen family members and friends of Mario Medina-Chevez.
Medina-Chevez, a 44-year-old Uber driver, was found along Mt. Gallant Road in Rock Hill. He had been missing for several days and had been so badly beaten that police needed dental records to identify him.
Adams and 21-year-old James Stevens were both charged with murder, robbery, kidnapping and series of other crimes, including possession of a stolen vehicle.
They were arrested in Maryland. Stevens is scheduled to appear in court next week.
In entering his plea, Adams rejected an offer from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office under which he would have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He would have served 30 to 37 years in prison. But he would have avoided the mandatory life sentence without parole tied to a first-degree murder conviction.
The killing of an Uber driver in Charlotte drew national headlines, and Adams’ arraignment on Thursday drew a large crowd of supporters for Medina-Chavez.
They began filling the corridor outside the courtroom more than a hour before Adams was led before Superior Court Judge Bob Bell by deputies.
Afterward, they lingered together, hugging and talking. Some of them were in tears.