PHOENIX - An ex-convict accused of killing two people and burying them at his mother's former home in Phoenix pleaded not guilty Thursday morning.
Alan Matthew Champagne, 42, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail on two counts each of first-degree murder and concealment of dead bodies.
Phoenix police were called out on March 5 after landscapers doing work for the home's new owners discovered the mummified and decomposing bodies of a man and a woman inside a wooden box buried in the backyard.
Two days later, police identified the bodies as 32-year-old (at time of death) Philmon Tapaha and 26-year-old (at time of death) Brandi Nicole Hoffner.
Authorities believe the two were killed in a north Phoenix apartment sometime in summer 2011 after some kind of altercation with Champagne.
Police processed the apartment as a homicide scene in October 2011 and said they recovered biological evidence through forensic means.
"We believe the bodies were transported and then buried in the backyard of the mother's home," said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
In March 2012, police were trying to follow up on an unrelated case involving Champagne and he barricaded himself in at his mother's house.
Police allege that Champagne fired numerous shots at officers before he was arrested.
Records show Champagne was given a 14-year prison term in 1991 for second-degree murder. He was released in 2005.